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I Want a New Drug ...

Posted Nov 20 2010 7:59pm
I want a new drug... 

Okay, maybe not yet, but it looks like there are lots of new potential candidates for treating HCL that still have yet to be explored.  Two posts ago, I mentioned a new third-generation antibody that has the potential of being 5 to 100 times more powerful than Rituxan but hasn't been used to treat HCL yet.  I'm hoping some preliminary in-vitro studies will be conducted soon.

Today, I found another one -- a Btk ( Bruton's tyrosine kinase ) Inhibitor, PCI-32765 , that is currently in Phase I clinical trials in patients with B cell malignancies (specifically Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma).  Btk is an essential signalling factor needed for the development of  B-cells.  By inhibiting it, the Btk protein production is blocked and B-cells can't develop.  The inspiration for developing the drug was born from a disease, XLA , in which B-cells are absent from the peripheral blood because Btk is not produced due to a Btk gene defect. 

What's great about this drug is that it's a pill, taken orally, that inhibits Btk production and thus B-cell production.  Since HCL is a B-cell malignancy, I've asked the Hairy Cell Consortium if they are familiar with the drug and whether it may be a candidate for a Phase 1 trial to treat relapsed and refractory HCL patients.  I'll let you know if they respond. 

"This is a very selective compound for B-cells, and it could represent an important alternative to rituximab therapy for the treatment of B-cell NHL. Other obvious applications include autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and Pharmacyclics also has strong preclinical efficacy with PCI-32765 in these disease models," said Dr. Mark Genovese, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chief of the Division of Immunology and Rheumatology at Stanford University Medical Center and member of Pharmacyclics' Scientific Advisory Board. [Taken from Pharmacyclics Press Release dated April 13, 2009]

Wouldn't it be great if we HCL'ers could knock out minimal residual disease (MRD) and then take a pill as maintenance therapy so that we'd never have to worry about it ever coming back?
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