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New Drug Shows Promise in Treating Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

Idelalisib could be on market later this year (January 22)

Idelalisib (Gilead Sciences), a highly selective oral drug that inhibits phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) delta, has shown promise in treating slow-growing (indolent) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). P13K deltas are a family of enzymes seen in many types of B-cell malignancies.

The new findings were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The phase II study involved 125 patients aged 33 to 87 years with indolent NHL who had not responded to conventional treatments or who had relapsed within 6 months of therapy. Each patient was given a twice-daily dose of idelalisib.

After this treatment, the tumor size shrunk by at least half in 57% of the patients, and 6% had no measurable evidence of cancer.

Unlike the toxic effects of chemotherapy, the most common side effects among patients in the study were diarrhea and colitis, which could usually be managed with dosage adjustments.

Indolent NHL comprises about one third of all cases of NHL. About 20,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with indolent NHL in 2012, and approximately 7,000 died of the disease. The standard treatment for indolent NHL is a combination of rituximab (a drug that targets the protein CD20 found on B cells) and chemotherapy.

Source: Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center; January 22, 2014.

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