The life expectancy of leukemia patients may be nearly doubled by the use of Amgen’s new immunotherapy drug, according the results of a clinical trial published March 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Amgen’s TOWER study, an FDA-approved trial launched in 2014, tested the drug Blincyto’s effectiveness on a group of 405 adult patients suffering from two rare forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The results showed that the intravenously administered drug extended the life expectancy of those who took it.
The good news bodes well for leukemia patients, according to Dr. Max S. Topp, professor and head of hematology at Germany’s University Hospital in Wuerzburg.
“Historically, patients with relapsed or refractory ALL have a poor prognosis, with an overall survival of just four months on standard of care chemotherapy," Topp said in a press release announcing the study’s results.
“Findings from this head-to-head study showed that
Blincyto almost doubled the median overall survival from four to 7.7 months, offering these high-risk patients a much needed alternative to chemotherapy that is both innovative and effective.”
The study also found patients taking Blincyto had a greater chance of going into remission versus those receiving chemotherapy, the release said.
Dr. Sean E. Harper, Amgen’s executive vice president of research and development, said the results show the viability of immunotherapy versus traditional chemotherapy.
“Blincyto has proven to improve overall survival, extend remission rates and reduce minimal residual disease in these high-risk patients who previously have had limited effective options,” Harper said in the release.
Clinical trial shows immunotherapy can extend leukemia patients' life expectancy