The CLL research community flocked to Cologne, Germany earlier this month for the 15th International Workshop on CLL (iwCLL). This meeting is held every two years and is the largest meeting focused solely on CLL research. Presentations covered every aspect of CLL research from the biology and microenvironment of the disease to novel treatment approaches. CLL Global was well represented on the agenda; many of our grant recipients and Alliance members presented their latest research.
The meeting reinforced the message that we are in a truly exciting time for CLL therapeutic research and that we are fortunate that a slew of treatment options are in development. The data presented on ibrutinib and ABT-199 (also known as GDC-0199) reinforced our enthusiasm for these agents. The presentations on cellular therapy showed that this type of treatment can be safe and effective. A number of clinical trials are in progress or in development to further test this treatment modality.
With all of the buzz about new treatment options, the current gold standard of fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR) was not forgotten. One of the late-breaking presentations featured long-term remission data on the FCR regimen. Both the German CLL Study Group and MD Anderson group both showed data from independent studies on those patients that had long-term progression free survival after receiving FCR. Each group made a similar observation: patients in the IGHV-mutated subgroup have longer-term progression free survival. MD Anderson data showed 60% of IGHV-mutated patients to be progression free at nine years. The German data showed more than 50% of IGHV-mutated patients to be progression free at eight years.
We have known for a while that the mutation status of the IGHV gene is an important prognostic factor. IGHV genes are found in the DNA of lymphocytes and are responsible for producing antibodies. A mutated IGHV gene is a good prognostic factor. The more mutated IGHV genes are, the more mature the genes are, making them more capable of protecting the body. The FCR data presented at iwCLL further confirms IGHV mutation status as a key prognostic factor. However, we know that FCR is not the ideal regimen for all patients, particularly patients with 17pdel. Therefore, work continues to find effective treatments for all subgroups.
To the left, you will find first-hand accounts from participants at the meeting. We have partnered with our friends at Patient Power to bring you video interviews direct from iwCLL. Stay tuned for more videos to come.