FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tina Stow
Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2015) - America's biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing more than 240 medicines for leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other forms of blood cancer, including more targeted treatment options for patients. These collaborative efforts to move research forward are detailed in a new report released today from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
More than 162,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a form of blood cancer this year, accounting for more than nine percent of all new cancer diagnoses. In recent years, significant efforts to advance the science in understanding and treating blood cancers have opened doors for more precise, effective treatment. Despite this progress, there is still a need for continued innovation and access to new medicines.
"We have made great advances in better understanding and treating many forms of blood cancer with more effective treatments that extend and improve lives," said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. "The progress is remarkable and the outlook has never been better for patients with forms of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. However, we must remain steadfast in our efforts as the current medicines in the pipeline represent our best hope yet for reducing the burden of blood cancers for generations to come."
The new report, "Medicines in Development for Leukemia & Lymphoma," conveys the range of novel approaches being pursued to tackle blood cancers. For example, many of the new medicines are targeted to work on the molecular level because we know now that blood cancers include at least 35 types of leukemia and 50 different lymphomas, based on genetic differences.
Innovative treatments in development include:
A second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor to block activation of the FLT-3 cell receptor, which is mutated in about one-third of all patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Due to the complexity of this disease, no new treatments have been approved for 90 percent of AML types in the last 40 years.
An inhibitor of BRAF kinase to treat patients with hairy cell leukemia. Through genomic screening, 90 percent of patients with hairy cell leukemia were found to have a mutation in the gene that encodes BRAF kinase. This medicine is currently approved for the treatment of melanoma, offering hope for those with this specific form of leukemia.
A fully human monoclonal antibody for Hodgkin lymphoma that targets the PD-1
(programmed death-1) checkpoint receptor. This receptor is expressed on T-cells and is part of a normal pathway that inhibits the immune system when needed. By blocking activation of this pathway, the body's immune system might recognize and destroy cancer cells.
"The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients," said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., president and CEO of LLS. "LLS has been a driving force behind treatment breakthroughs for patients with blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and we are truly at a unique moment in our ability to treat and cure patients with blood cancers and other forms of cancer. It is only through continued collaboration with partners like PhRMA in funding research and development of new medicines that we will achieve our ultimate goal: a world without blood cancers."
Partnerships among patient advocates, industry, academia and others are critical in moving biopharmaceutical research forward. LLS is a leader in driving research into new medicines and supporting diagnostics through the Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP). TAP is a strategic initiative to speed the development of blood cancer treatments, and support research projects that have the potential to change the standard of care for patients with blood cancers, especially in areas of high unmet medical need.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country's leading innovative biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $550 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $51.1 billion in 2013 alone.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.