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February 2015


CLL Global hopes this email finds all of our friends and supporters staying warm this February. It has been a cold, snowy winter for many of us. To add a little warmth to the season, Dr. Keating offers his thoughts on "Saying Goodbye to CLL" and the progress we can expect in CLL research throughout 2015. There is also a lot to look forward to in the upcoming month with a Town Meeting hosted by our partners at Patient Power, and the premiere of the PBS documentary "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies", based on the book by Pulitzer-prize winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD.  


Saying Goodbye to CLL


In the early part of 2015 the American Society of Clinical Oncology declared the progress in the treatment of CLL as the "Cancer Breakthrough of 2014". During this time two new oral agents with great efficacy in previously treated patients with CLL, and in untreated patients with loss of part of chromosome 17, the site of a very important protein called p53, received FDA approval. 2014 also brought about approval of a new antibody against CD20, obinutuzumab (Gazyva), along with a widening of the indications

so that obinutuzumab could be utilized as an anti-CD20 antibody in front-line patients. Both of the studies which led to the approval paired obinutuzumab with chlorambucil (Leukeran), but the value of the chlorambicil is dubious at best.


This year tremendous energy will be put into the development of immune-therapies for CLL. Already the Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T lymphocyte (CAR-T) cells targeting CLL are being expanded and CAR-T cells against CD19 are showing exciting results. A new CLL drug target, ROR1, identified by investigators at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is currently being explored. In addition, a series of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which have proven to be very effective in solid tumors, Hodgkin's disease, and lymphoma, will be introduced into CLL. A series of other antibodies for natural killer cells and cord blood natural killer cells (NK cells) will be introduced to activate a patient's own immune system to work against CLL.  Thus we have a large number of new, efficacious and well-tolerated treatments, which do not damage the DNA of other tissues in the immune system, to apply to the treatment of CLL. I am certain these initiatives will improve the percentage of patients that are free of recurrence of the disease at 10 and 15 years from one patient in three to a significantly greater proportion. There will always be difficult cases but there is no time that we consider it to be more likely that a quantum leap in outcome of CLL will occur than in 2015 and onward.


Living Well with CLL: A Town Meeting for Patients, Their Families and Care Partners


Our partners at Patient Power, in conjunction with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, are hosting a Town Meeting in Tempe, AZ on Sunday March 29, 2015. The meeting will be an interactive format offering participants an opportunity to meet other CLL patients and connect with experts, survivors and caregivers. The event is free and will be held at the Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Butes. Don't live close to Tempe? Have no fear. A free video conferencing service is available with host and patient advocate Carol Preston on the scene as your reporter. The event is free but registration is required. (http://www.patientpower.info/event/cll-phoenix-2015/)



Ken Burn's Presents "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies"


Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns presents a three part, six hour series based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD.  The series follows the complete history of cancer from its first documented appearance thousands of years ago to modern research institutions and our current understanding of the essence of the disease. The series will air on PBS on March 30th, 31st and April 1st, 2015, at 9 pm EST. The series is the most comprehensive documentary on a single disease ever made.


CLL Global would like to thank you all for your continued support as we move forward in "saying goodbye to CLL". It is through the generous donations of our members that cutting edge research is funded and we move one step closer to a cure for the disease. 


CLL Global Research Foundation