Advances in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Therapies
Dr. Gwen Nichols, chief medical officer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, discusses major developments in immune therapies; improvements in identifying lymphoma subsets within each patient that can result in more tailored, targeted treaments; and what the future holds for people living with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Dr. Nichols: I think the future is very exciting for lymphoma treatment. There are a couple of areas of research.
One of the areas that I'm really excited about is looking for some of the initiating cells for those lymphomas that we can't cure. We're very good at treating the active lymphoma that's proliferating. But the cells that start it, seem to still be left behind. We're learning more and more about what those cells are. And once we really understand those cells, hopefully, we'll be able to target those cells specifically with treatments. And that could mean we could cure more patients. I think that's very exciting. And what I've seen in the research area is very hopeful
A second area that's very exciting is understanding how to utilize immunotherapies for fighting the lymphomas. It's been a very important part of lymphoma therapy. And antibody therapies are an immunotherapy. But over the last several years, we've had a lot of exciting new immune therapeutics. And we think this is now another arm of treatment, along with radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapies that we can use together to fight lymphoma. And I think that's really coming of age.
The third is that we are better subclassifying the lymphomas with biomarkers. And some of those are even genomics and genetic testing. And once we can do that, we can even make more tailored therapies for specific abnormalities within the lymphomas subsets. It's going to be better and more tailored treatments for patients. So, I think the future is precision medicine and immunotherapy. And for lymphoma, it's a very exciting time.
I think that hope should be great for lymphoma patients. The reason that I say that is there's a whole host of new treatments now. And I think that that should bring people hope that there are agents now that can be used second line, third line, even if you need to be treated several times over the course of 15 or 20 years.
And the fact that we are slowly but surely moving away from very toxic chemotherapies to more precise and more targeted therapies and more immunotherapies is very exciting. And I think that it's a very positive and hopeful time for patients even though many lymphoma patients have to live with the uncertainty of their cancer coming back.