“There is a critical unmet need for therapy options in this subset of patients to achieve long-term cancer control,” said Dr. Kerry Rogers, principal investigator of the clinical trial and a hematologist/scientist at the OSUCCC – James.
“Our study shows that ibrutinib is a safe, effective and well-tolerated option for patients with relapsed or variant forms of hairy cell leukemia. It is a very important discovery for patients facing this diagnosis.”
Multi-institutional team led by the OSUCCC – James recruited 44 patients with high-risk hairy cell leukemia to test the effectiveness of the drug ibrutinib, 15 of whom were treated in Columbus, Ohio, at the OSUCCC – James.
All study participants had either classic hairy cell leukemia and had received other treatments previously or the variant form of the disease where it is not likely that the standard therapies–the chemotherapy drugs cladribine (pronounced KLAD-rih-been) and pentostatin (pronounced PEN-toh-STA-tin)–would be effective.
Ibrutinib is a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors. These drugs block specific chemical reactions in the body that are involved in cellular processes.
Ibrutinib is FDA approved for mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma and others.
“The underlying cellular biology of these diseases is similar, so we wanted to determine if this FDA-approved drug that is used to treat other forms of blood cancer could also serve as an effective treatment for this small segment of hairy cell leukemia patients who did not respond to traditional therapies,” said Rogers, who is an assistant professor in Ohio State’s College of Medicine.
“Even though hairy cell leukemia is a disease with a generally good prognosis, there is a small group of patients for whom current therapies are inadequate for cancer control,” Rogers added.
“This is an effective, well-tolerated new treatment option for patients impacted by the highest-risk forms of hairy cell leukemia. It’s a very exciting development that could transform survivorship for this subset of patients from months and years, to years and decades.”