Leukemia – Treatment Breakthroughs For Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Recently released news from a U.S. pharmaceutical company stunned the market when they revealed that they had trialed a new drug that may help in the fight against chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). About one month ago “Ibrutinib,” a new orally taken drug that is said to be different from traditional chemotherapy treatments by targeting specific processes and preventing tumor metastasis (spread) was announced.

It is said to work by binding to the B-cells (cells that produce antibodies) while not affecting the T-cells (cells that destroy invading pathogens [microorganisms] with perforins [a protein produced by killer cells of the immune system that causes disintegration] and granules [a small particle]).

When chemotherapy is given to a patient, usually it has the effect of causing the T-cells a great deal of damage. Because of this, the side-effects a cancer patient experiences can be quite severe. However, because Ibrutinib does not affect these vitally import T-cells, the adverse side-effects are significantly reduced.

Treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia is considered to be literally lifesaving. So such an important announcement has gathered an awful lot of interest from both researchers and physicians alike. Studies have been impressive, with the results astounding those involved.

One particular study showed where two different groups were trialed with Ibrutinib, one group (81% of patients) was given a 420 mg dose (considered a low dosage), and another group (40% of patients) was given a 840 mg dose (considered a high dosage), the results were unbelievable. These two groups accounted for 74% of all the CLL sufferers involved in the trials. Further more, the trials showed that nearly 90% of patients showed a 50% reduction in lymph nodes.

The trials carried out on the CLL patients themselves has their challenges, as chronic lymphocytic leukemia is in general a very difficult disease to treat at the best of times. Over 40% of patients involved in these trials who had previously been given at least three prior treatments involving chemotherapy and other drugs, had suffered a relapse. Other challenges were age, as over 20% of the patients were over 70 years old.

To sum this up, Ibrutinib showed, and is still showing amazing results, as nearly 80% of those who were trialed are still taking the drug today, and who are showing a 90% response rate. Over 13% of patients have been able to achieve a complete response, and a minority of 3% have been declared in remission and who will be continually monitored in the future. It certainly seems that Ibrutinib has a future!

Chronic Leukemia – A Less Dangerous Cancer, But Harder To Treat

Leukemia is a dangerous form of cancer, and it affects thousands of people every year. It affects the white blood cells. The body loses control of the quantity and quality of blood cells, and it becomes very vulnerable because the white blood cells are supposed to protect our organism against infections. There are two main types of leukemia – acute leukemia and chronic leukemia. Acute leukemia is more dangerous because it spreads much faster, but chronic leukemia can be tricky because it has almost no symptoms.

The first organ that is affected by chronic leukemia is the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a tissue that can be found on some of the main bones in the body and that has the role of producing blood cells (red blood cells and white blood cells).

White blood cells are the guardians of the body. They can be found anywhere in the blood and they attack and neutralize any type of bacteria that enters the body and that can be harmful.

When a patient has chronic leukemia, the white blood cells from his blood are deffective and they are continuously created. A normal person should have less then 10000 white blood cells white a person with leukemia can have more than 100000, but although there are so many the protection against infections is decreased because most of the cells are malfunctioning.

A particularity of chronic leukemia is that patients who have it also have a lower number of red blood cells.

The causes of all types of leukemia are unknown, doctors cannot determine why some people have this illness and other don’t. Though, scientists discovered some factors that increase the risks of becoming ill of leukemia. Among these factors radiations play an important role, many that were exposed to radiations were soon diagnosed with leukemia. Also, a malfunction in the genes can cause the blood cells to transform, so it can have a genetic cause. The causes and risk factors are still being researched.

The bad thing about chronic leukemia is that it usually shows no symptoms that can give he patient an idea about his condition. It’s often discovered during routine lab tests. Some of those suffering from chronic leukemia reported having a general state of weakness and fatigue. As the disease advances blood can start to come out of the nose or of the gums for no reason, and because the organism is weakened and its defense is lowered, leukemia patients can be vruised very easy, and they are often infected with foreign microorganism.

Chronic leukemia treatment depends on each patient. After the diagnose a series of tests are made to determine which therapy the patient responds to. Chemotherapy is used in most situations. The number of people that are cured of chronic leukemia is increasing as time passes, but a there is a notable number of victims too.

New drugs and cures keep being researched by doctors and scientists and the survival rate is rising, so maybe in the near future chronic leukemia will be musc easier to treat.

What Is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?

As blood gets pumped around the human body, it delivers both oxygen and nutrients to vital organs and cells, while at the same time removing the carbon dioxide and other waste in the process. Blood is made-up of trillions of microscopic cells that can be found in a watery liquid called plasma. These blood cells are broken down into three different types: red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes).

All three types of cells have a specific purpose within the body; however, when these cells become contaminated they cease to function correctly. White blood cells are created in bone marrow from stem cells, and are broken down into three different types. After their creation they are introduced into the blood circulatory and lymphatic system. Although part of the immune system and an important part in fighting off infection, they make-up for only about 1% of all cells that can be found in human blood.

When white blood cells become cancerous, the disease is called “leukemia.” Leukemia causes the bone marrow where white cells are created to produce abnormal cells. These same cells in turn cause healthy blood cells to be hampered by crowding them out and making it more difficult for the blood to do its job properly. Chronic lmphocytic leukemia (CLL) is where too many lymphocytes (white cells) are produced.

It is not uncommon for CLL to show no symptoms at all in a sufferer, and is only usually discovered after a routine check-up has been ordered relating to another illness. However, when symptoms do occur, they are generally the same as those that are associated with many other types of cancers: swelling (of the lymph nodes in the neck, under the arm in the armpit, the stomach and groin [this swelling is usually painless]), pain below the ribs (usually very painful [sometime a sense of fullness of the stomach may be experienced]), weight loss without a reason as to why (without diet or exercise), and a fever or infection.

Treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapy where substances are used to attack cancerous cells without harming the healthy ones. These may include monoclonal antibodies (man-made immune system proteins), cancer vaccines (substances designed to trigger a response within the body that act against certain types of diseases), or non-specific immunotherapies (treatments designed to stimulate the immune system [man-made cytokines such as interleukins or interferons]).

Targeted drugs usually have less severe side-effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs and are a better option for the patient.

A bone marrow transplant may also be considered, sometimes offering a patient a better chance to be cured.