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Checkpoint Inhibitors and CLL

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Published on October 3, 2016

Could checkpoint inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy, be used to treat patients with CLL?  Dr. Nicole Lamanna, CLL specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, explains this approach, using the analogy of car brakes.  Dr. Lamanna is excited to announce that several clinical trials for CLL checkpoint inhibitors are underway and in the pipeline, exploring the use of checkpoint inhibitors in combination with known therapies. 

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from Acerta Pharma, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pharmacyclics, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and TG Therapeutics, Inc. and the Patient Empowerment Network, which received support from AbbVie Inc. and Genentech Inc. It was produced by Patient Power in partnership with The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

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Transcript | Checkpoint Inhibitors and CLL

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

So checkpoint inhibitors, so we’re talking about the immune system. How can we have your immune system fight the cancer that it didn’t do well against the first time? And those junky B cells came up, right? So, and your immune system, in a sense, let us down, right? So we feel bad. 

And it happened. Can that be remediated, okay? So if you see ads on TV now, and lung cancer, they’re running TV ads. I can’t believe it. Or there are some other areas. This is about what they call immuno-oncology, and these checkpoint inhibitors, can they help your immune system fight the cancer it missed the first time? Did I get it right? 

Dr. Lamanna:      

Yeah, no, you got it right. That was very good.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Thank you. I get an A. Okay, so in CLL, does this apply?

Dr. Lamanna:      

Yes. So just like Andrew was saying, there are ways to try to put the brakes, stop and start your immune system to see if we can fight your cancer cells, whether they be CLL or other. And so these are new agents that are approved in lung cancer and actually melanoma, so you can actually see that on probably the TV ads. And so there are clinical trials that are using some of these agents—not just in CLL—but other lymphomas and other cancers, to see how well maybe we can regulate your immune system and do a sort of putting a brake on, so they can see if they can enhance your body to recruit other cells to then kill and help fight your CLL cells. 

And so there are clinical trials—this is probably obviously the next hot area in CLL and cancer in general. And so this is lots of clinical trials running with checkpoint inhibitors. Some of the early studies are not as—I should say not as exciting as in some of the solid tumors that it’s approved for. We’re already looking at strategies to combine the checkpoint inhibitors with some other agents to see if we can enhance this. So we don’t know if this will really be a home run yet in CLL. But certainly, we’re looking at this in combination with other therapies. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

So we’ve mentioned, and we’re gonna talk a lot more later about clinical trials. So if you go to one of these folks or their peers, where they’re doing research, next year, maybe the year after that, maybe even this year, and they say, “You’re gonna need treatment again. Let’s propose to you a clinical trial,” it could combine one of these agents.

Dr. Lamanna:      

Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.