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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 69

of 'Treatment of relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia'

Rituximab therapy of patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Huhn D, von Schilling C, Wilhelm M, Ho AD, Hallek M, Kuse R, Knauf W, Riedel U, Hinke A, Srock S, Serke S, Peschel C, Emmerich B, German Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Study Group
Blood. 2001;98(5):1326.
Rituximab (IDEC-C2B8) is a chimeric antibody that binds to the B-cell surface antigen CD20. Rituximab has significant activity in follicular non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Much less is known about the effects in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We have initiated a phase II trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of rituximab in patients with CD20+ pretreated CLL. To avoid the rituximab-associated toxicity, we restricted the tumor cell load, as measured by the number of circulating lymphocytes and the spleen size, in the first 2 cohorts of patients included in the study. Patients received 4 intravenous infusions of 375 mg/m2 once a week over a period of 1 month. Of the 28 patients evaluable for response, 7 patients showed a partial remission (National Cancer Institute criteria) lasting for a median of 20 weeks, with 1 patient still in remission after 71 weeks. Based on lymphocyte counts only, we found at least a 50% reduction of lymphocyte counts lasting for at least 4 weeks in 13 (45%) of 29 patients. Fifteen patients from 3 institutions were monitored for the immunophenotype profile of lymphocyte subsets. The number of CD5+CD20+ cells decreased significantly and remained low until day 28 after therapy. T-cell counts were not affected. With the exception of one rituximab-related death, adverse events in the remaining patients were mild. The results suggest that rituximab has clinical activity in pretreated patients with B-CLL. Toxicity is tolerable. Response duration after withdrawal of rituximab is rather short. Therefore, other modes of application and the combination with other agents need to be tested.
Department of Medicine/Hematology and Oncology, CharitéCampus Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt Universität Berlin, Germany. dieter.parczany@charite.de