Because of the significant benefit found in combining the targeted drug ibrutinib with standard chemotherapy for relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), an interim analysis has closed the international HELIOS phase III clinical trial.
Led by Mayo Clinic, researchers found that ibrutinib and chemotherapy (bendamustine and rituximab, known as BR) reduced the risk of death or cancer progression by almost 80 percent in patients with previously treated CLL or SLL, compared to use of BR alone.
The announcement was made at a press briefing at the 2015 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology by HELIOS' senior investigator Asher Chanan-Khan, M.D., professor of medicine and chair of Hematology & Oncology, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida.
"This finding represents a significant advancement in the management and treatment of this leukemia," says Dr. Chanan-Khan. "Although CLL remains incurable, this new regimen offers longer disease control and a decreased risk of relapse for our patients."
The HELIOS study -- which enrolled 578 patients from centers around the world -- was the first to compare, head-to-head, chemo immunotherapy alone to chemo immunotherapy plus a targeted drug in patients with CLL.