Marking another promising advance for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, including those with a rare subset of this blood cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted priority review for an investigational compound that has shown positive results in a Phase II clinical trial.
Venetoclax has shown great potential as a new way of treating CLL patients who have received at least one prior therapy. It also appears to be effective for patients with a rare subset in which a piece of chromosome 17 is missing. Venetoclax works by inhibiting the BCL-2 protein and enabling a signaling system that tells cells, including cancer cells, to self-destruct.
More than 126,000 patients in the U.S. currently live with CLL, a typically slow-moving blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow. Of those CLL patients who do not respond to therapy, or who have relapsed, approximately 30 percent are found to have a mutation in which they are missing part of chromosome 17.
A Priority Review designation is granted to medicines that the FDA believes have the potential to provide significant improvement in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a disease. The compound was granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation in April 2015 in order to expedite its development and review.
For more than 66 years The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has dedicated its energy and resources to finding cures for blood cancers, investing more than $1 billion over that time. Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to take the lead in a “moon shot” mission to cure cancer. We at LLS agree the time is right.
“It’s personal for everybody,” the Vice President later said in a statement.
As Vice President Biden pointed out, everybody is touched by cancer. He also lauded the innovations in data and technology, and new approaches to research, which are leading to remarkable progress in the ability to harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, and more precise ways to target molecularly the cancer-driving genes. Innovations in treating cancer are reaching patients at dizzying speed and we are at the cusp of seeing even more breakthroughs in the near future.
Congress has approved a $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. The 6.6 percent hike -- to $32.1 billion -- is the largest increase in 12 years and it will make an enormous difference in supporting cancer research in the years ahead.
The bill includes a $264 million increase in funding for the National Cancer Institute (boosting NCI funding for the year to $5.2 billion – a 5.3% increase) as well as $200 million in funding for a precision medicine initiative dedicated to accelerating the design and testing of effective, tailored treatments for cancer.