The medical journal Blood, which focuses on research on diseases of the blood (duh), published the results of a recent study on a Rituxan alternative. The article is called "Ofatumumab Monotherapy in Rituximab-Refractory Follicular Lymphoma: Results from a Multicenter Study." The titular results were, well, not all that exciting.
Ofatumumab is a second-generation monoclonal antibody -- one of several that were developed as alternatives to Rituxan. Like Rituxan, it attaches to the CD20 protein that is present on B cells (both lymphoma and normal cells). The big difference is that, while Rituxan was derived from mouse cells, Ofatumumab is derived from human cells. Researchers thought this might result in fewer side effects, and better attachment.
So far (like many second-generation monoclonal antibodies), it hasn't proven to be a huge improvement over Rituxan. This study doesn't seem much different, unfortunately.
The focus, as the title indicated, is on fNHL patients who are refractory to Rituxan -- that is, patients who have had Rituxan, but are not getting results from it. The hope was that Ofatumumab would be different enough from Rituxan to override whatever resistance the body had built up.
And that was the case for a portion of the patients in this study. The abstract says it was "well-tolerated and modestly active in this heavily pretreated, rituximab-refractory population." The term "modestly active" doesn't really get anyone up and cheering. But it did show at least some results for some patients.
Maybe more importantly, Ofatumumab "is being studied in less refractory FL and in combination with other agents in various B-cell neoplasms." In other words, maybe using it as a monotherapy -- all by itself -- isn't the best way to use it. Much like Rituxan, maybe its greatest strength will be in making other treatments better. There are a whole bunch of trials going on that are attempting to find some good combinations.
One more to keep an eye on.