FDA approves two new drugs for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia treatmentTwo new drugs that were approved recently are now offering a lot of hope to people suffering from chronic lymphatic leukemia, the common kind of adult leukemia. As you would expect, these drugs have their benefits and downsides and here is a look at what they mean for treatment of leukemia in the future.

Arzerra- a new CLL therapy

FDA has finally approved Arzerra for use in treating people with the chronic lymphocytic leukemia where other types of chemotherapy haven’t been successful in their treatment. 4400 people out of the 16000 CLL patients diagnosed every year die in the US. The disease tend to affect the immune cells found in the body known as B- cells and people aged above 50 years can be affected. Arzerra works through binding certain proteins on the B- cell, both cancer and normal cells to enable the immune system to fight the disease better. Arzerra successfully helped 59 patients suffering from CLL who seemed not to respond to other treatments.
Pros: compared to other antibodies, Arzerra has proved to be very effective when it comes to killing leukemia cells. The main pro of Arzerra is that it helps sub-populate people with CLL who are known as refractory patients. These patients are usually resistant to the standard chemotherapy and just 20% of them have responded to the treatment in the past nine months.
Cons: no side effects have been reported in regard to Arzerra that isn’t present in other drugs. When given intravenously, the patient can have fever, breath shortness, chills and a drop in the blood pressure. The first infusion sees Arzerra at its worst but medication can be used to treat these side effects.

Rituxan- helps improve the overall survival for patients under 70

Just like Arzerra, Rituxan works by binding to the cancer cells and weakens them thereby making them even more vulnerable to attacks by immune system. Rituxan has been approved for patients who are first time recipients of CLL treatment and also those who were treated earlier on.
Pros: doctors have noted 51 month remission with the combination of the three drugs which is now the longest remission ever seen with any kind of front- line therapy. When the three drugs are combined, the length of the remission is doubled.
Cons: when Rituxan is combined with other two drugs, this can result in low blood counts, which can cause bleeding, infection and fatigue. For the older patients, that is quite difficult. It was also unfortunate that Rituxan didn’t prove to be of any advantageous use to the elderly persons aged above 70 years.
In addition, people who were infected with Rituxan hepatitis B previously can have the virus reactivated when Rituxan is given.