New study published on Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that two drugs – ibrutinib and rituximab – are more effective in combination than chemoimmunotherapy to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL, the most common leukemia in adults.
According to the research, "the risk of progression or death was 65% lower and the risk of death was 83% lower with ibrutinib-rituximab than with chemoimmunotherapy." The study also included a follow up after three years, where researchers discovered that the survival rate of ibrutinib-rituximab was at 98.8% versus 91.5% with chemotherapy.
The other benefit of ibrutinib-rituximab is the mild side effect profile. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss, nausea, anemia, fatigue, etc. because it affects all cells in the body, including the healthy ones. Whereas ibrutinib-rituximab specifically attacks cancerous cells.
In a quote from CNN: “Study author Dr. Tait Shanafelt, professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, said the study's data safety monitoring committee requested that the results be ‘shared immediately with the world because they were so dramatic, and they were immediately practice-changing.’
This new development opens up a multitude of avenues for tackling chronic leukemia, paving the way for research into other pharmaceutical combinations. Ibrutinib-rituximab has researchers looking forward to a chemotherapy-free future.
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