Venetoclax and ibrutinib and drug combinations for CLL

Carlo Croce, MD of The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH discusses drug combinations for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) at the 2016 International Workshop of the German CLL Study Group (GCLLSG) in Cologne, Germany. Prof. Croce explains that he worked with AbbVie to develop venetoclax, which targets BCL2. Ibrutinib targets the Bruton kinase, which can extend the life of CLL patients. As Prof. Croce points out, we therefore already have two very good drugs against CLL. There are some results now on the combination of venetoclax and ibrutinib, which target the leukemic cells through two different genes. He believes that soon we will be able to target the same cancer cells with two or three different targets, which are in fact encoded by the same locus. He explains that with CLL, the cells are accessible in the blood and can be stored at different times (before, during and after treatment). This means there is a lot of opportunity to study the mechanisms, which he considers key in order to be able to cure cancer. Further, he believes that what we learn from CLL, is probably applicable to other cancers. After the discovery of the involvement of miR-15 and miR-16 in CLL, it became clear that there is dysregulation of microRNA in every cancer, which could provide information about targets and treatments.

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