A new approach to killing blood cancer

It’s not often that you get a therapy named after you, particularly one that has so much promise for helping to save lives. So when researchers at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center named the treatment Cirmtuzumab after us it’s understandable we should feel just a little pride. After all, we provided the funding and support needed to develop it. Now Cirmtuzumab is being used in a clinical trial to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) a deadly blood cancer. Cirmtuzumab is a monoclonal antibody drug and is designed to attach itself to a protein called ROR1 that CLL cells need to survive and spread. The idea is that if you block ROR1, you can block the growth of the cancer. Ivanhoe Broadcasting, a company that syndicates medical stories to TV stations around the US, recently featured this trial. You can see that report here. kipps2013Dr. Thomas Kipps, who is heading the trial, told Ivanhoe that CLL is an important disease to target: “This is the most common adult leukemia in western societies. We have early data now to suggest this antibody may be effective at preventing the relapse and metastasis of cancer.” It’s always encouraging when a promising therapy moves out of the lab and into clinical trials. Reaching this point is the culmination of years, sometimes decades, of hard work and while this is an important milestone, it’s just the first step in a long journey. But now we get to put it to the test and see if it will work in people. If it does, then that will be something to be truly proud of.

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