The majority of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) suffer a relapse following first-line therapy, while some patients do not respond to the initial treatment at all. Better treatment methods are being sought for these patients. In the past few years, the medicines ibrutinib (Imbruvica®) and venetoclax (Venclyxto®) were approved for the treatment of this patient group in Switzerland.
Various considerations support a combination of the two drugs ibrutinib and venetoclax: Preclinical trials indicated a synergistic effect of the two drugs, as ibrutinib is more active in the lymph glands, while venetoclax is more active in the peripheral blood and in the bone marrow. Prior treatment with ibrutinib may result in a reduction of the tumor burden and thus lessen the risk of tumour lysis, a common complication of monotherapy with venetoclax. Another important argument is its good tolerability: The combination therapy does not cause significantly more side effects than when the active substances are administered as monotherapy.
In the SAKK 34/17 trial we are treating patients with both active substances in combination to find out whether this improves the response and the course of the disease.
Around 30 patients will be included in the trial.