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Taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice for some non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients. Clinical trials are under way to develop treatments that increase the remission rate of or cure the disease. Today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continues to invest funds in NHL research.

Clinical trials can involve new drugs, new combinations of drugs or approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new ways such as new drug doses or new schedules to administer the drugs. Clinical trials are conducted worldwide under rigorous guidelines to help doctors find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Current NHL Research and Clinical Trials

Below are some of the types of NHL research and trials under way:

Autologous stem cell transplantation. Doctors are studying the use of autologous stem cell transplantation, which uses the patients' own cells in a transplant, to treat certain NHL patients, particularly patients in first remission. It can't cure the NHL, but it can give patients longer disease-free periods than standard-dose chemotherapy alone can.

Reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Doctors are studying a reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation, also called a nonmyeloablative transplantation, that may help some patients such as those who are older and those who have poor overall health better tolerate stem cell transplantation.

Gene expression profiling and microarray analysis. Ongoing studies are looking at effective ways to predict treatment response and identify patients who may be at increased risk for relapse. Gene expression profiling and microarray analysis to identify certain biomarkers in tumor cells are two methods proving effective.

Microenvironment. Researchers are studying the cells associated with lymphatic tumors, called the microenvironment. They're hoping the microenvironment will reveal treatment outcomes, which they've already been able to do in the case of follicular lymphoma.

Vaccine therapy. Scientists are developing vaccines that stimulate the immune system to combat and suppress lymphoma cell growth. Although they won't prevent NHL, the vaccines are meant to kill any lingering lymphoma cells after initial treatment. Doctors are currently studying a wide range of anticancer agents, some of which are outlined in the table below.

Some Drugs Being Studied in Clinical Trials


What It Is

What It's Being Studied For


chemotherapy drug
  • relapsed follicular lymphoma
  • other relapsed lymphomas
  • Used with the monoclonal antibody rituximab
monoclonal antibody
  • previously treated, progressed follicular lymphoma
  • For use with Rituxan to determine whether it's more effective than Rituxan alone
proteasome inhibitor
  • a variety of NHL subtypes
  • Already approved to treat mantle cell lymphoma
Enzastaurin serine threonine kinase inhibitor
  • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in remission
  • For use as a maintenance therapy
Histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • T-cell and B-cell lymphomas
  • Already approved to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
immunomodulatory drug
  • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • mantle cell lymphoma
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia
monoclonal antibody
  • indolent NHL subtypes
  • For use as a maintenance therapy
  • Results are promising so far, particularly for follicular lymphoma therapy and the drug's ability to lengthen event-free survival
Ibritumomab tiuxetan
monoclonal antibody
  • relapsed follicular lymphoma
  • newly diagnosed indolent NHL
  • aggressive NHL when combined with other drug regimens
  • Already approved for relapsed low-grade lymphoma
  • So far, response rate for relapsed follicular lymphoma has been high
  • Also being studied as part of high-dose therapy programs with autologous stem cell support
monoclonal antibody
  • relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • follicular lymphoma
Pralatrexate antimetabolite
  • T-cell lymphoma subtypes
mTOR inhibitor
  • a variety of NHL subtypes, particularly mantle cell lymphoma
  • Already used to treat kidney cancer

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last updated on Thursday, February 20, 2014

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