Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Follicular Lymphoma Biomarkers

Well, I can only access the abstract for this article, but it reveals plenty.

It's called "Pre-specified Candidate Biomarkers Identify Follicular Lymphoma Patients who Achieved Longer Progression-free Survival with Bortezomib-Rituximab versus Rituximab," and it has just been posted to the website for the journal Clinical Cancer Research

The title pretty much sums it up.

A study involving 676 relapsed and refractory Follicular Lymphoma patients first determined which of the patients had a particular biomarker. In other words, their cancer cells had a feature that made them different. In this case, the biomarker is something called PSMB1 P11A C/G heterozygote. What is it? No idea. Doesn't matter if we know, as long as the French researchers know.

Basically, the 676 patients were divided into two groups, and half were given Rituxan, and the other half were given Rituxan plus Bortezomib, also known as Velcade, which is a proteasome inhibitor (it blocks an enzyme in cancer cells that keeps cancer cells from dying on their own). The researchers found that the patients who took the Bortezomib and Rituxan AND who had the biomarker had a longer time before the Follicular Lymphoma came back. The median was a little more than 14 months for those patients, versus about 9 months for those who took only Rituxan.

Now, 5 months isn't a really long time, but the bigger deal here is the identification of the biomarker. This is what the whole "personalized medicine" approach to cancer treatment is all about -- being able to look closely at an individual patient's cancer cells and find small biomarkers or other differences that can help us predict which treatments are more likely to work than others. Also, knowing what those biomarkers are might help researchers develop treatments that cam target cells with those specific biomarkers.

This is a Big Picture study, in my opinion. Nice results, but more importantly, a smaller step toward something big.

No comments: