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HomeMedical Information CancerTwo for the price of one: Incredible results with the latest immunotherapy treatment

Two for the price of one: Incredible results with the latest immunotherapy treatment

By: Medix Team

82% of the leukemia patients and 59% of lymphoma patients treated in a CTL019 phase II trial achieved remission.

The term immunotherapy is often thrown around regarding the cutting edge of cancer therapies. So what is it? Simply put, immunotherapy treatments help the immune system fight off cancer more effectively than it would on its own. Immune systems fight cancer just as they would fight the flu or a cold, the problem is that it often has trouble identifying and targeting the cancer cells. Immunotherapy solves this problem, strengthening the immune system and directing it against cancerous cells. Treatments are available for specific kinds of cancer, and research is currently investigating the use of this method for additional kinds.


The latest buzz in this field of medicine is around a drug named CTL019. Over the past months, the FDA advisory committee unanimously voted to recommend approval of the drug as second line treatment of pediatric and young adult leukemia. Meaning the drug would be available to patients which the regular treatments no longer help. This recommendation follows after the drug received “Breakthrough Therapy Designation”. This means that evidence from the clinical trials were extremely promising and authorizing the drug for widespread use can be done more quickly than other experimental drugs. This designation was granted after 82% of the patients treated in a phase II trial achieved remission. These results are outstanding and rarely seen in cancer treatment trials. For comparison, previous studies investigating treatment for patients with relapsed cancer, meaning cancer that returned after initial treatment, stood at 18%. 


More recently, the same therapy has received another breakthrough designation, this time for treatment of adults with lymphoma whose disease hasn’t responded to any other available treatment. Here too, the trials results were unprecedented; the drug was effective in reducing tumor size and achieving remission in 59% of treated patients. This figure is all the more impressive seeing as these patients haven’t responded to other treatments and lack any alternatives.   


The approval process for this drug is under way and it may take a while longer, however for patients suffering from lymphoma, the future can seem a little brighter. 

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