November 29, 2023

New Drug Shows Promise in Treating Relapsed Blood Cancers

A targeted drug called nemtabrutinib has shown promise as a new treatment option for patients with relapsed blood cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). In the first clinical trial of its kind, researcher

Currently, there are several drugs available to treat these B-cell cancers, but over time, many patients experience disease progression. Nemtabrutinib works by binding to a key enzyme called Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK), which is involved in the signaling process of B-cells. By blocking the action of the enzyme, the drug causes abnormal B-cells to die.

However, with current drugs, this effect is often temporars at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found that nemtabrutinib was effective in three-fourths of the cancer patients tested, with minimal side effects.
y as the BTK enzyme mutates, rendering the drugs ineffective. Nemtabrutinib was specifically designed to bind to BTK, even in the presence of common mutations, and it also binds to other proteins important in B-cell cancers. This unique combination of properties makes the drug highly promising for patients who have run out of standard treatment options.

In the clinical trial, 47 patients who had undergone at least two prior therapies for their blood cancer were given nemtabrutinib once a day. Over 75% of patients with relapsed CLL responded positively to the drug, even those with BTK mutations. Most patients remained cancer-free for at least 16 months during the trial, and the side effects experienced were minor and manageable.

The next step for nemtabrutinib is larger and more definitive trials, where it will be compared against other standard-of-care drugs and used in combination with other active medications. Blood cancer remains a significant health concern in the United States, with one person dying from the disease every nine minutes and someone being diagnosed every three minutes. CLL is the most common form of leukemia in adults, while NHL accounts for 4% of all cancers in the country.

This clinical trial was supported by Arqule Inc., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., and involved collaboration from various research institutions and organizations.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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