Originally Released: December, 1998
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Physicians at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center are participating in a nationwide study to investigate a new therapeutic approach for patients with non-Hodgkin's B cell lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system.
The treatment is unique because it combines a monoclonal antibody, which is engineered to seek out and attach itself only to lymphoma tumor cells, and a radioisotope, which delivers radiation. The monoclonal antibody is tightly bound to the radioisotope
"We believe this therapy may offer a promising alternative treatment for patients, especially for individuals who have demonstrated resistance to conventional chemotherapy," says Meyer Heyman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center.
Lymphomas rank fifth in cancer incidence and mortality in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence rates for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have nearly doubled in recent decades. Patients with non-Hodgkin's B cell lymphomas can experience multiple relapses and may need repeated courses of treatment to prolong their lives.
The most common treatment options for patients with non-Hodgkin's B cell lymphomas consist of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But chemotherapy affects both cancerous and normal cells in the body, and as a result some normal cells may be damaged. Chemotherapy can also become less effective over time as tumors become resistant to its effects.
"This type of radioimmunotherapy has the potential to selectively target the cancer cells we want to destroy, and deliver an amount of radiation needed to kill the tumor while sparing the surrounding tissues," says Dr. Heyman.
The study includes patients with slow-growing forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma whose cancer has returned even though they had chemotherapy. Patients participating in the clinical trial will be randomly assigned to two groups. One group will receive the IDEC-Y2B8. The other group will receive four weekly doses of Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody without a radioisotope. Patients in that group who do not respond to Rituxan therapy alone may have the opportunity to receive IDEC-Y2B8 as part of a second, follow-up study. Treatment for both groups is administered in an outpatient setting.
Patients or physicians who would like to find out more about the study should call the Greenebaum Cancer Center's toll-free referral line at 1-800-888-8823.
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