Blood cancer, lymphoma, has a range of subtypes, one of which is rare called intravascular large B-cell lymphoma. The latter is notoriously hard to diagnose accurately and has no known treatment.
A team of scientists from Nagoya University and Mie University in Japan has discovered a novel treatment protocol, which has shown promising results in a clinical trial.
Their findings were published in Lancet Oncology.
Lymphoma primarily targets the elderly, for whom high doses of strong chemotherapy could have serious side-effects, and who are at higher risk of developing subsequent centra nervous system (CNS) disorders.
So, a new treatment that has fewer side-effects and that tackles CNS is required, which is precisely what the team from Nagoya and Mie Universities has been focusing on.
Given this particular type of lymphoma is rare, trialing different drugs has proven tricky, but manageable. A previous study using rituximab, a drug, showed a promising line of treatment, however, it doesn't solve the issue of secondary CNS involvement.
"We considered that rituximab-containing chemotherapies combined with treatment for the secondary CNS problems could lead to further improvement in the clinical outcome," said Dr. Kazuyuki Shimada of Nagoya University.
The team carried out a clinical trial on 38 enrolled patients, monitoring their conditions over a long period of time.
In the end, 76% of the enrolled patients reached the primary goal of surviving two years without any progression in the disease, and 92% reached a two-year overall survival goal. The disease affected CNS in only 3% of the patients. On top of this, the toxicity of the treatment was lower than usual, all side-effects were manageable, and had few serious serious complications.
It is indeed a promising day, as Dr. Shimada summarized 'To the best of our knowledge, this is the first 'prospective' trial of any treatment in patients with IVLBCL. It appears that the proposed treatment protocol might be effective in patients without apparent central nervous system involvement at the time of diagnosis."
As the disease is so rare, carrying out further studies is near impossible, which means the team's protocol can be adopted in clinical practice in the near future.