Monday, April 8, 2013

Ibrutinib in the News

The FDA has approved Breakthrough status for Ibrutinib for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL).

(Some consider CLL, a leukemia, and SLL, a lymphoma, to be different presentations of the same disease. I'll let the Lymphoma Research Foundation sort that one out for you.)

This expands the number of blood cancers that have received Breakthough status for Ibrutinib.

A couple of other links worth mentioning:

First, on Friday, ran a story on Ibrutinib called "The Wild Story Behind a Promising Experimental Cancer Drug." It is a pretty interesting story, as the author of the piece says: "an almost absurdly improbable story embracing the Human Genome Project on the one hand, and Scientology on the other."

It's not quite as sexy as that quote makes it sound. It being Forbes, it's heavy on the business end of how several drug companies were involved in bringing Ibrutinib to life. And it being written by a physician, it's also heavy on the medical terminology (though with some nice links to help explain things). But if you stick with it, it does give you a pretty good sense of just how complex the process is for creating a drug that might do some good for a lot of Lymphoma patients. And that unavoidably involves both science and business.

The other link comes from Dr. Sharman's excellent blog on CLL and NHL. He references the Forbes article (and is mentioned in it), and also suggests that, in his very informed opinion, we will likely see the FDA approve Ibrutinib for other diseases in the next three years. (He doesn't mention Follicular Lymphoma by name, but given some of the similarities between CLL and Follicular Lymphoma, that does seem likely (especially since there are several clinical trials already underway).

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