Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ibrutinib for CLL and MCL in New England Journal of Medicine

It is with considerable pride that I get to report our ibrutinib study was published today in the most prestigious medical journal out there.

Targeting BTK with Ibrutinib in Relapsed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Time magazine says:

New Drug May Be Best Treatment for Leukemia Yet

I've written extensively on my blog about ibrutinib because I have been working with it and other similar drugs since 2005I got to treat the first two CLL patients in the world with ibrutinib and also one of the very first mantle cell lymphoma patients.  It is fun to see the world waking up to the significance of these therapies.

It was a cool experience treating the first two CLL patients because it was immediately clear that the drug was doing something significant (though in the first few days it wasn't clear if it was good or bad).  The patient had a white blood cell count of 50k and the next day she came back feeling great with nodes that had shrunk tremendously and her WBC had risen to about 150K.

I remember discussing it with the medical monitor and we hastily got a scan to make sure we were not making the patient worse.  I had thought this might happen because of our prior experience with fostamatinib but the monitor at the time was uncertain of what it meant.  After a few months we became aware of just how special this drug might be - the rest they say is history (recorded here)

There is also an article about ibrutinib in mantle cell lymphoma in the same journal and a fantastic editorial about why these drugs work.  For patients with mantle cell lymphoma over age 65 there is a critically important new study to be aware of - linked here.

There is never a good time to get CLL, but if you had to pick one, now would be the time to get it!  Lots of cool change coming.