WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The treatment for Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia and Mantle Cell Lymphoma could become as simple as taking a pill 3 times a day.
Every 30 minutes a person is diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), the most common form of Leukemia. However, now a new drug called Ibrutinib shows potential to safely treat CLL patients.
Traditional Leukemia treatments such as chemotherapy can come with negative side effects. There is excitement behind the studies of Ibrutinib because experts say this drug seems to yield only a few mild side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue, and infection.
Ibrutinib is small gray pill taken three times a day. It has shown to be extremely effective compared to other drugs. About 75% of people with relapsed CLL were disease free at 2 years. The response rate to the drug was 71% and after 26 months the overall survival rate was 83%.
Ibrutinib works by targeting the enzymes in cancer cells that instigate growth. The CLL cells require these enzymes in order to live. The pill essentially shuts the enzyme down and thus turns off the functionality of the cancer cell.
This drug has also been shown be effective in treating Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). Currently this disease is treated using chemotherapy and immunotherapy followed by a stem-cell transplant. Ibrutinib has a response rate of 68% and and overall survival rate of 58%.
Typically drugs take about 7-10 years of testing before they are approved. However, due to the great results thus far in the testing of Ibrutinib; the drug could be released as soon as 4 years.