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What Treatment Methods Are Being Used Instead of Chemo?

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Published on April 26, 2018

Advances in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) care have led doctors away from only using traditional chemotherapy. Are there less toxic CLL treatment options available? Expert, Dr. Michael Keating from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses modern targeted treatment methods, including monoclonal antibodies and inhibitors, and explains how they work to kill cancerous cells and their effect on the surrounding normal cells compared to chemo. Watch now to learn more about novel agents used for CLL.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc.,Pharmacyclics LLC and TG Therapeutics. It is produced by Patient Power in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center CLL Global Research Foundation

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

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Transcript | What Treatment Methods Are Being Used Instead of Chemo?

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.

Jeff Folloder:               

So when we think of chemotherapy, probably one of the first things that people think about here is nausea, and hair falling out. Are we trying to move away from that shock trauma of chemotherapy?

Dr. Lamanna:              

Yes. 

Jeff Folloder:               

Good. Because I don’t wanna ever have to do chemotherapy. I am not ashamed to admit that what little grey hair I still have, I’d like to keep that for a while. So let’s talk about some of the other stuff that we have to bring to bear against CLL. Dr. Keating, what are the MABs, and the IBs, and the new stuff, that we’re doing?

Dr. Keating:                

When you have a drug that you’re recommended, that has MAB at the end, it’s a monoclonal antibody, that is, it’s a protein, which will just target one particular protein, on the surface of cells. 

Jeff Folloder:          

Okay.    

Dr. Keating:                

Pretty much all immune therapy works on the outside of cells, whereas chemotherapy tends to work on the nucleus, in the middle of cells. And this is where the DNA happens to be. So when the antibody is given, it’s given intravenously, and it runs around, and it looks for a cell that’s got that protein, attaches to it, activates proteins in the bloodstream, and immune cells, and they punch holes in the leukemia cell. Unfortunately, most of the antibodies share the target that they have with some normal cells. 

Jeff Folloder:      

Okay.         

Dr. Keating:                

Not nearly as many as with the chemotherapy. So you keep on looking for things that are very specific, for that particular patient. And, some will be strongly positive, like the trisomy-12s, tend to have a high level of CD-20, and most other leukemias have a low level. 

Lower than normal. There’s CD-52, which is done, pretty much all the lymphocytes, and the good thing is that it’s very good in killing off CLL cells. The bad thing is that it kills off most of the immune system so that it’s no longer really being used in CLL. Now, with you have things called MIBS, it’s an inhibitor. And these are the targeted therapies, they know exactly the protein enzyme that they want to get to, and they’re complex, and they neutralize it, and it’s much more selective in killing off malignant cells, than it is killing off normal cells. So that’s MABs and MIBs.

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.

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