Changes in research to overcome the problem of resistance to new CLL drugs

Arnon Kater, MD, PhD of the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands talks about the problem of resistance to new drugs for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), held at the 2016 International Workshop of the German CLL Study Group (GCLLSG) in Cologne, Germany. Prof. Kater explains that there is a very strong push to give patients new effective drugs such as ibrutinib and idelalisib. The first-line of treatment is monotherapy and indeed patients are gaining from that because their quality of life gets better. However, he explains that as a clinician it is scary because problems may arise in a few years when people gain resistance to these drugs. He believes that the way forward is to design trials that do give those new compounds very early on but also then give them in combination based on a biological rationale. This is because there is synergy in all those drugs and if given together, they are much more powerful than if given one by one in a sequential way.

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