ASH 2013: Dr. John Pagel Discusses Radio-Immune Therapy (RIT) in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
In fact, it is so rarely used that since this video was recorded in December, 2013, Bexxar (Tositumomab) was pulled from the market in February, 2014 as it was prescribed fewer than 75 times in 2012.
Zevalin (Ibritumomab Tiuxetan) is still available.
At ASH 2013, I interviewed Dr. John Pagel out of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (the union of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (the Hutch), UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's) who has a very patient friendly way of explaining how these drugs work and what their role might be. Dr. Pagel is also a kind and wise transplanter and as such has extensive experience with conditioning therapies that often include different forms and dosing of radiation to prepare for the transplant and that is another reason why I wanted to hear about his updated research on this important and neglected corner of CLL research. To understand how much or little we have moved forward in the last year, please check out my interview with Dr. Pagel done a year earlier at ASH 2012. As you can read, we are still dealing with the some of the same old issues that are slowing our progress.
RIT makes most sense to me as a mop up or "consolidation" therapy and as I have posted before, we desperately need that. I believe RIT should be explored as a final knockout punch to our CLL when it has been decimated and only a few active cells are hiding out in our marrow and our nodes.
I suspect that this research idea won't get much traction.
Dr. Pagel is too kind when he describes why these antibodies with their toxic payload are underutilized.
True they are expensive and tricky to administer, but they are usually a one or two time treatment.
Sounds good to me.
The real reason they are not used as much as they could be is that oncologists can not prescribe them. You need to consult a radiation oncologist and even then, the radiation oncologist you see may not offer that option or have much experience with RIT. It requires specialized set up for its administration and management.
So basically it is a turf issue.
Here is a link to the abstract that Dr. Pagel presented at ASH 2013.
And here is the interview. As I said as we talked, I love his analogies.