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Achieving the Impossible in Blood Cancer Therapies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a groundbreaking 18 cancer therapies in 2017. Among these approvals were the first new therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after a 40-year drought in treatment advances for this deadly blood cancer. Two revolutionary CAR T-cell immunotherapies, which reprogram the body’s own T-cells to find and kill cancer cells, were approved for certain leukemia and lymphoma patients who have relapsed or did not respond to treatment.

Looking ahead, progress will likely continue to accelerate.

1. CAR T-cell and other immunotherapies will continue to make headlines

There will likely be more FDA approvals for these therapies in 2018. We might see this therapy move from last resort to earlier in the course of treatment. LLS recently announced its commitment of $46 million to new research grants, including support for the next phase of CAR T-cell immunotherapy — understanding why some patients respond and others don’t, making the process more powerful and available to patients with other types of cancers, including myeloma.

2. The attack against AML will intensify

LLS continues to push the envelope in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) research. We are one year into a groundbreaking Beat AML Master Clinical Trial. With this trial, we’re taking a precision medicine approach, giving patients a targeted therapy appropriate for their subtype. We now have more than 170 patients enrolled at seven leading cancer centers with more joining soon as well as six pharmaceutical companies and nine study arms on board.

3. Combination therapies will unlock powerful new treatment options.

I expect to see more clinical trial data, and more approvals, in combination therapies. Doctors have significantly more therapies in their arsenals to treat blood cancers, but now they are trying to figure out the most effective cocktails to produce lasting remissions and even cures.

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