From the British journal Lancet Oncology comes the article "Subcutaneous Rituximab Noninferior to IV Formulation in Follicular Lymphoma," a look at whether or not Rituxan could be as effective if given as an injection rather than as an IV.
It seems that it can.
The study is part of a multinational study of Follicular Lymphoma called the SABRINA study. The goal is to determine if the injected Rituxan would stay in the blood in concentrations similar to those of the traditional IV. Patients were split into 2 groups. Both were given either CHOP or CVP, but one group had Rituxan by IV, and the other by injection. The chemo was given for 8 cycles, and at the end, patients who had a response were given Maintenance Rituxan (again, either IV or injection) every 8 weeks.
The two groups were tested to see if the concentrations of Rituxan in their blood were comparable. It's possible that the less concentrated, slower dose of an IV would be more effective, and would cause fewer problems, than the rush of a more concentrated injection.
But the results showed that the two methods were indeed comparable. Their next step is to measure safety and effectiveness in more detail.
As the intro to the Summary points out, the researchers are hoping that the injection method will "improve convenience and save health-care resources." As those of us who have had Rituxan are aware, four hours in a chair, especially if the treatment is weekly, is not all that convenient, and can take up the time of a nurse or two. Maybe an injection can be a small step in reducing costs, and in making life just a tad easier for Follicular Lymphoma patients who are receiving treatment.
Certainly worth keeping an eye on, particularly as this might be a method for delivering some of those other Monoclonal Antibodies that are being developed, too.