Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved of Venclexta, which is a new drug treatment for patients who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and a chromosomal abnormality known as 17p depletion.
Qualifying patients must have received one previous therapy of treatments.
Venclexta is the first drug approved by the FDA that targets the body’s B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) protein. This protein is used to support the growth of cancer cells; it is overexpressed among CLL patients.
According to the National Cancer Institute, CLL is among the most common kinds of leukemia that adults develop. There are approximately 15,000 new CLL cases detected every year.
When patients develop CLL, their bodies progressively accumulate abnormal lymphocytes, which are a kind of white blood cell. CLL patients who also have a 17p depletion don’t have the chromosomes that are needed to stop cancer from growing. This abnormality happens in an estimated 10 percent of untreated CLL patients and 20 percent of patients who have relapsed CLL.
“These patients now have a new, targeted therapy that inhibits a protein involved in keeping tumor cells alive,” Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said. “For certain patients with CLL who have not had favorable outcomes with other therapies, Venclexta may provide a new option for their specific condition.”