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Fighting Leukemia and Lymphoma

More Than 240 Medicines in Development for Leukemia, Lymphoma and Other Blood Cancers

Each year, more than 162,000 Americans are diagnosed with a blood cancer —accounting for more than 9% of all new cancer diagnoses.



Each year, more than 162,000 Americans are diagnosed with a blood cancer —accounting for more than 9 percent of all new cancer diagnoses. Major types of blood cancers include leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. In recent years, science has advanced quickly and opened doors for more precise treatment, as we have seen exciting progress in our understanding of and ability to treat blood cancers. For example, we now know that “diseases of the blood” – as they were known a few decades ago – include at least 35 types of leukemia and 50 different lymphomas, based on genetic differences. 

Many new medicines are able to target cancers at the molecular level and the treatment outlook has never been better for patients. Survival rates reflect the remarkable progress in diagnosis and treatment. Despite the progress researchers and clinicians have made in the treatment of blood cancers, the need is great for continued innovation and access to new medicines. Biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing 247 medicines targeting leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers.

162,020 Afflicted

In 2015, more than 160,000 are expected to be diagnosed with a blood cancer. Specifically, it is projected that there will be 54,270 new cases of leukemia, 80,900 new cases of lymphoma, and 26,850 new cases of myeloma.

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A Decade of Innovation in Development

During the last decade, researchers have pushed the scientific envelope, working at cellular and molecular levels to dramatically advance the treatment of blood cancers. They have had particular success in the fight against chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia. A look at treatment advances over the last 10 years demonstrates the rapid pace of progress. For a patient diagnosed with CLL in 2005, chemotherapy was the predominant first-line treatment. A patient diagnosed today with CLL has a range of approved targeted therapies.

 

I'm Not Average - Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

When Jamie was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) she faced the very real possibility of planning her funeral. However, thanks to advances and innovations in cancer medicines, CML no longer defines her. In this video Jamie shares that CML is a disease she will always have, but because of these innovations, she’s happy and able to manage her disease.

60.3%



Five-Year Survival Rate For Leukemia Patients

Survival rates reflect the remarkable progress in diagnosis and treatment. Five-year relative survival rates for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children under age 15 jumped from 3 percent in 1964 to 92 percent in 2010. For Hodgkin lymphoma, it more than doubled since 1960, reaching 87.7 percent in 2010. For patients with myeloma, the rate increased from 12 percent in the 1960s to 46.7 percent in 2010.

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"Over the past 65 years, survival rates for many blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled. Almost 40 percent of the new anticancer drugs developed since 2000 were first approved for blood cancer patients, and are now helping patients with other cancers and chronic diseases."

-Louis DeGennaro, PhD President and CEO, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

9 Percent of Diagnosis

Of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States, 9 percent are cancers of the blood - over 160,000 diagnoses per year. Survival is on the rise for blood cancers, but many still die from these illnesses.

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Medicines in the Pipeline

Biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing 247 medicines targeting leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers. These medicines are either in human clinical trials or under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The medicines in development include: 106 for several types of leukemia, 90 for lymphoma including Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 47 targeting hematological malignancies, which affect bone marrow, blood and lymph nodes, 41 for myeloma, and 10 for myeloproliferative neoplasms and for myelodysplastic syndromes, which are diseases affecting the blood and bone marrow.

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Related Medicines

  • Inhibitor of BRAF kinase

    Through genomic screening, it was found that more than 90 percent of patients with hairy cell leukemia have a mutation in the gene that encodes BRAF kinase. Researchers are now studying an inhibitor of BRAF kinase that is currently approved for the treatment of melanoma. High rates of response, which were achieved early after the onset of therapy, have been observed.

  • Therapeutic antibodies for multiple myeloma target CD38

    CD38 is a protein that is found on the surface of myeloma cells. The therapeutics work by binding to the CD38 protein on the surface of the myeloma cell and then signaling the immune system to attack the cancerous cells.

  • Fully human monoclonal antibody in development for Hodgkin lymphoma

    It targets the PD-1 (programmed death-1) checkpoint receptor. This receptor is expressed on T-cells and is part of a normal pathway that inhibits the immune system when needed. Cancer cells may exploit this pathway to protect the tumor from attack by the immune system. Blocking activation of this pathway may allow for immune responses that recognize and destroy cancer cells. Medicines that block the PD-1 receptor have been approved by FDA for the treatment of malignant melanoma and advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

  • Second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor for leukemia

    This may block activation of the FLT-3 cell receptor, which is mutated in about one-third of all patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Activation of this receptor by different types of mutations appears to play an important role in tumor cell proliferation, resistance to programmed cell death, and prevention of normal cell development.

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Resources

View additional resources to learn more about medicines currently in development to treat and prevent blood cancer: