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Brentuximab Delays Cancer Progression in Hodgkin’s

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Brentuximab vedotin delays the time to cancer progression among patients with Hodgkin’s disease who undergo an autologous stem cell transplant. These results were recently published in The Lancet.

Hodgkin’s disease is a type of cancer that starts in the immune cells. Overall, Hodgkin’s disease is highly curable, particularly when it’s found in early stages.

Among patients with Hodgkin’s disease that is either very advanced, or among those whose cancer has characteristics that indicate a poor prognosis, a stem cell transplant is often part of a treatment regimen.

An autologous stem cell transplant refers to a process in which high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation are used. These high doses are used to kill more cancer cells; however, the doses can leave patients susceptible toxic side effects.

Following the high doses of therapy, patients then receive an infusion of their own stem cells that were collected.

Researchers continue to evaluate ways in which to further improve upon results of autologous stem cell transplants, including the addition of agents that will help fight the cancer while being easily tolerated by the patient.

Brentuximab vedotin is an agent that has been designed to target Hodgkin’s cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

Researchers from North American and Europe conducted a phase III clinical trial to further evaluate brentuximab as part of the treatment protocol among patients with Hodgkin’s disease. The trial lncluded 329 patients who underwent an autologous stem cell transplant whose cancer did not respond to standard therapies. One group of patients were treated with the standard autologous stem cell transplant protocol, while the other group was treated with the addition of brentuximab following their transplant.

  • The average time to cancer progression following a stem cell transplant was 42.9 months for those who received the addition of brentuximab, compared with only 24.1 months for those who were treated with transplant only.
  • The most common side effects associated with brentuximab were numbness of the extremities and low levels of immune cells.

The researchers stated that “This treatment provides an important therapeutic option for patients undergoing autologous stem-cell transplantation.”

Reference: Moskowitz C, Nademanee A, Masszi T, et al. Brentuximab vedotin as consolidation therapy after autologous stem-cell transplantation in patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at risk of relapse or progression (AETHERA): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial. The Lancet. 2015. Published on-line March18, 2015.