Updated: Friday, 08 Mar 2013, 6:20 PM EST
Published : Friday, 08 Mar 2013, 4:55 PM EST
NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s not yet available for general use, but the results are promising for patients with blood cancers.
The drug was recently granted ‘Breakthrough Therapy Designation’ by the Food and Drug Administration for certain blood cancers, including mantle cell lymphoma.
“So that the FDA will fast forward the approval process,” said Dr. Richard Frank.
Only available in clinical trials, Dr. Frank, the Director of Cancer Research at Norwalk Hospital, says Ibrutinib has led to exceptional results.
“It’s a little pill,” Dr. Frank said. “You absorb it in your system, a little chemical gets into the cell, binding the lung, a little protein in the cell and it’s like magic, the cells die and stop growing.”
The author of Fighting Cancer, Dr. Frank is conducting a phase two non-randomized study for patients with mantle cell lymphoma.
“That means all patients with the disease get the same drug,” said Dr. Frank.
Patients with few options.
“Nothing really works at this point,” said Dr. Robert Levine. “They’ve had all forms of chemo and immune therapy so if this pill can cause a significant remission, the FDA will approve it based on that.”
The drug worked for semi-retired neurologist Dr. Levine.
“My lymph nodes that were all swollen shrunk and stayed shrunk, and actually over time seemed to get smaller,” Dr. Levine said.
He was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma.
“Since that time I haven’t had any chemotherapy,” he said, “I haven’t needed a transplant and there are virtually no side effects of the medication, and I’m leading a fairly normal life.”
Ibrutinib stopped his cancer’s progression after taking part in a different study three years ago.
“Everyone always talks about when you have cancer, well if you live long enough there might be a miracle drug that comes out that’s going to go save you,” Dr. Levine said. “In this instance, I had something that really came along and did the trick.”
Dr. Levine takes six pills of the targeted therapy daily with no side effects.