According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, clinical trials are ongoing research studies that are stringently overseen by doctors to develop and improve therapies for certain types of cancer. Treatments and therapy innovations made during lymphoma and leukemia clinical trials aim to better fight these cancers of the bone marrow (i.e., multiple myeloma) and lymph systems, while ensuring patients experience fewer negative side effects. The following therapies, if proven safe and successful in the clinical trial stage, will face approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in standard treatment of leukemia and lymphoma patients:
1. CAR T-cell therapy
CAR T-cell therapy entails genetically modifying a patient’s own immune cells to fight their cancer. To date, one CAR T-cell treatment has been approved by the FDA to treat children and young adults with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Further clinical trials are underway to find a CAR T-cell therapy to treat older adults fighting B-cell ALL. Findings from this trial will utilize CAR T-cell therapy to delay or totally replace the need for stem-cell transplantation in senior patients unable to withstand transplant surgery.
2. Targeted therapies
While the standard treatment for many types of leukemia have been chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation, clinical trials for less-toxic targeted therapies are being studied in order to avoid the more serious side effects of chemo and radiation that many older patients wouldn’t live through. Targeted therapies undergoing approval or recently approved include Midostaurin (Rydapt), Enasidenib (Idhifa), Gilteritinib (Xospata), Ivosidenib (Tibsovo), Glasdegib (Daurismo), Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg), and Venetoclax (Venclexta).
3. Genomic sequencing
A group of researchers at the National Cancer Institute are exploring the potential of genomic sequencing for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. During the trial, patients’ tumor cells are sequenced to help doctors choose the best line of treatment. Genomic sequencing can determine if cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, stem-cell transplant, or a combination is best suited to the specific patient.
Children undergoing cancer treatment can suffer extreme damage to their developing bodies and brains, which is why the NCI-funded Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is currently studying alternative cancer therapies that minimize these adverse effects. For example, recent findings from the study note that child ALL patients can forgo unnecessary radiation brain therapy and lower the risk of future hormonal, thinking and memory, hormone issues.