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The LLS Blog

Read about survivors, research, fundraising and advocacy.

#ASH15 Day 3: Big Advances in Treating Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

By Andrea Greif |

John Byrd, M.D., of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, is one of the world’s renowned scientists in the field of blood cancer. LLS has been supporting his work for the better part of two decades. While Byrd has, of late, turned his attention to the problem of finding better therapies for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), it is in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that he has made his mark. 

Byrd defined the mechanism of action in rituximab, the antibody that targets the CD20 protein expressed on the surface of B-cells. Rituximab was the  first therapy to extend lives of patients with CLL. Further, Byrd led the Phase 3 clinical trial that led to the FDA approval in 2014 of ibrutinib, a therapy that targets the BTK protein found on the surface of B-cells. Ibrutinib has changed the standard of care for patients with CLL. Byrd currently leads an LLS Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant, a major collaborative effort bringing together an interdisciplinary team of investigators to undertake groundbreaking research.