Zevalin Effective as First-Line Treatment for Advanced Follicular Lymphoma

Radioimmunotherapy treatment with Zevalin® (ibritumomab tiuxetan) is safe and well tolerated and induces a high rate of clinical and molecular responses when given as first-line treatment to patients with advanced stage follicular lymphoma, according to the results of a study presented at the 52nd annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Orlando, Florida.

Zevalin is a type of radioimmunotherapy treatment (RIT) that combines the monoclonal antibody Rituxan with Zevalin, which is comprised of an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody and Yttrium-90, a radioisotope that delivers the radiation. When injected into the body, Zevalin attaches to a protein (CD20) found only on the surface of B-lymphcytes, such as cancerous B-cells found in many forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The radioactivity that is spontaneously emitted targets the B-cell and destroys it. This approach protects healthy tissue.

Zevalin has been shown to be a highly effective treatment-and has the added benefit of being administered over a single short period of time. Zevalin is administered on an outpatient basis and the total duration of therapy is less than 10 days.  Zevalin offers active patients the opportunity to spend less time undergoing treatment than more conventional chemotherapy.

NHL is a form of cancer that begins in the cells of the lymph system. The lymph system includes the spleen, thymus, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and circulating immune cells. Follicular lymphoma is a type of NHL that is considered to be a low-grade or indolent lymphoma, meaning it is a slow-growing subset of NHL. It involves a type of white blood cell known as a B cell.

Researchers conducted a phase II clinical trial that included 59 previously untreated patients with grade I-IIIA follicular lymphoma in 7 centers in Austria, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Patients received the standard single dose of Zevalin (15MBq/kg).

Six months after Zevalin treatment, 45 percent of patients were in complete remission and 40 percent were in partial remission—resulting in an overall response rate of 85 percent. One year after therapy, the response rate was 72 percent, with a complete response rate of 52 percent and partial response rate of 20 percent. Among the 33 patients who have reached a follow-up of more than 18 months, 52 percent are in complete remission, 9 percent are in partial remission, and 36 percent have progressed. At a median follow-up of 23 months, the progression-free survival rate was 17.9 months.

Treatment was well tolerated. There was no severe acute toxicity and only grade I-II adverse events.

The researchers concluded that first-line treatment with Zevalin was safe and well tolerated and induced high rates of clinical and molecular responses in patients with advanced follicular lymphoma.



Scholz CW, Pinto A, Linkesch W, et al. 90Yttrium Ibritumomab Tiuxetan as first line treatment for follicular lymphoma: First results from an international phase II clinical trail. Blood. 2010; 116(21): Abstract 593.

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