The role of chemotherapy in managing chronic lymphocytic leukemia: optimizing combinations with targeted therapy

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Abstract

For many years, alkylating agents were the standard treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The advent of purine analogs improved response rates, but not overall survival, and although the monoclonal antibody rituximab is generally active against B-cell malignancies, it has demonstrated limited benefits as monotherapy for the treatment of CLL. However, specific combinations of chemotherapy, antibodies and targeted therapies have demonstrated additive or synergistic activity in CLL cells and deliver substantial clinical benefits. A greater understanding of the actions of chemotherapies and targeted agents on cellular pathways will advance the development of rationally designed combinations corresponding to individual patients’ disease profiles.

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