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Dr. Jeff Sharman

(The US Oncology Network)

The Road from Research to Clinic: Could New CLL Treatments Be Available Soon?
The Road from Research to Clinic: Could New CLL Treatments Be Available Soon?
What to Consider When Choosing a CLL Treatment Path
What to Consider When Choosing a CLL Treatment Path


Dr. Susan O'Brien

(MD Anderson Cancer Center) 

What Could New and Promising Treatment Options Mean for CLL Patients?
What Could New and Promising Treatment Options Mean for CLL Patients?


Dr. Alessandra Ferrajoli

(MD Anderson Cancer Center)  

Dr. Ferrajoli on the FDA Approval of Ibrutinib in CLL
Dr. Ferrajoli on the FDA Approval of Ibrutinib in CLL



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February 2014


Dear  , 

February has been a busy month for CLL Global and the entire CLL community. We were recovering from the standing room-only patient forum when we heard the news that Ibrutinib was approved for CLL. Read more about the forum and ibrutinib below and watch the videos for some physician insight. In addition, we  introduce you to our three latest grant recipients. 

CLL News
FDA Approves Imbruvica
The CLL community received an early Valentine's treat; on February 12, the FDA approved Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) as a single agent for the treatment of patients with CLL that have received at least one prior treatment. Ibrutinib, jointly developed by Pharmacyclics and Janssen, is the first once-daily, single-agent, oral kinase inhibitor for CLL patients.
 Ibrutinib's approval has been long-awaited by the CLL community particularly because it offers an oral, mild alternative to chemotherapy. Ibrutinib is more selective than most chemotherapy agents. Chemotherapy often lowers the intendedFDA stamp white blood cell count but may also lower the hemoglobin and platelet counts.  Ibrutinib lowers the white blood cell count without impacting other cells. Ibrutinib also offers a milder side effect profile.
Ibrutinib works by inhibiting the function of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), which is a key signaling molecule of B-cell receptors. BTK also plays an important role in the survival and spreading of malignant B-cells. Ibrutinib blocks the signal that stimulates malignant B-cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. 
The FDA approval only covers those patients who have undergone previous therapy. There are studies looking at groups, such as the elderly and 17p- patients, that might benefit from upfront treatment. Stay tuned as more data evolves from these studies and additional indications are added.
CLL Research
Latest Grant Recipients Announced

CLL Global recently awarded three new grants. The research questions cover a variety of topics, but the common element is that each of the projects aims to generate clinically relevant information within two to three years. CLL Global is grateful to its Scientific Advisory Board and our external reviewers for their thoughtful consideration of the submitted applications. Below, please meet our three new recipients.


Dr. Laurence Cooper (MD Anderson): Dr. Cooper is studying the reconstitution of T-cells in CLL patients. Cooper and colleagues are interested in studying the effect of returning modified lymphocytes and other immune system cells derived from the individual. T-cells and NK cells are removed from patients and then  manufactured in the laboratory before being infused back in the patient. The goal is to improve the immune system function and prevent CLL progression. 


Dr. Rajendra Damle (Feinstein Institute for Medical Research): Dr. Damle is investigating the effect of BCR pathway inhibitors on different clones of CLL cells. Dr. Damle hypothesizes that the varying clones within patients contributes to resistance to therapy.


Using various assays and profiling, Damle and colleagues propose to dissect out differences in responsiveness of subclones to pathway antagonists. The findings from this study could result in better combination therapies for CLL patients.


Dr. Catherine Wu
(Dana-Farber Cancer Institute): Dr. Wu is studying the clonal dynamics of early CLL. Wu and others hypothesize that genetic events lead the disease from diagnosis to a more aggressive stage. The early genetic and epigenetic events will be studied in a unique cohort of patients that were sampled over the years from diagnosis until the time of first treatment. This will be done using RNA and DNA sequencing data, as well as using novel engineering technologies to create cell lines for laboratory studies. 

Understanding the New World of CLL


The CLL Patient Forum, "Understanding the New World of CLL: What it Means for You" was held February 1 in Houston, Texas. There was a great turnout, with over 300 CLL patients and caregivers in attendance. This was a great opportunity for patients to interact with physicians, nurses, and social workers, as well as share stories and experiences with each other. The latest CLL treatment and research news was presented by CLL experts. There were also patient advocates on hand to provide advice for coping with CLL.  


We have received tremendous feedback from the forum and are already working with our friends at Patient Power to host a forum in Tampa in April. Below is a short excerpt from one

Preston with fourm panelist Jeff Folloder.

of our attendees, Carol Preston. Carol is a communication consultant; she was diagnosed with CLL more than 7 years ago. Despite one relapse three years later, she has lived a fulfilling life. She continued to work through treatments, traveled extensively overseas and joyously witnessed her older son's marriage in November. 


"The day of the event at MD Anderson I walked into a sea of patients. Everyone was smiling and excited to be attending. Many were from the Houston area, but one CLL patient had flown in from Australia to attend. Immediately, people including me began to talk with each other. We asked each other about our disease, how long, which type, which treatments if any (many CLL patients are what are called 'watch and wait.') Suddenly it became comforting to know that I am not alone. Intellectually, I knew that. Some 15-thousand Americans each year are diagnosed with CLL. But chatting with people like me, who wanted to know about me and I about them, was exhilarating."


Thanks for reading this month's Tidbits. By next month, we should have video clips from the forum available. Until then, be well.


CLL Global Research Foundation