SAN FRANCISCORadioimmunotherapy (RIT) with the investigational
radiolabeled monoclonal antibody known as Bexxar (tositumomab and iodine I-131
tositumomab) is effective and well tolerated in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)
patients with poor prognostic features, according to retrospective analyses
presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical
In one analysis (abstract 1140), investigators looked at a cohort of 251
patients enrolled in phase I-III trials between 1990 and 1999. Overall response
rate was 74%, with a 35% complete response rate. For the subset of
poor-prognosis patients in that group (ie, those with transformed low-grade
NHL, bulky disease, no response to previous chemotherapy, four or more prior
chemotherapies, or prior radiation treatment), overall response rates were
approximately 60%, with complete response rates of 20% to 25% and median
duration of response up to 9 months.
A separate study (abstract 1136) showed that elderly NHL patients tolerated
tositumomab treatment. In the retrospective analysis, which included 70
patients more than 60 years of age, adverse events and other safety outcomes
were not much different than what might be expected in younger patients.
"This study showed that elderly patients tolerate the drug very
well," said Stephanie A. Gregory, MD, director of hematology,
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago. "The response
rates are slightly less than those seen with younger patients, but you might
expect that because of age and co-morbid conditions."
Overall response among these elderly patients was 60% vs 76% for a cohort of
216 patients younger than 60 who had also participated in prior Bexxar trials.
The median duration of response was 9 months for the elderly patients vs 13
months for the younger patients. Complete response was seen in 20% and 37% of
old and young patients, respectively.
Twenty-one patients were older than 70 years. For that subset, overall
response was 48% (14% complete response rate), with a median duration of
response of 11 months.
Bexxar is given as a single therapeutic dose specific to each patient’s
clearance of the antibody, as determined by a prior dosimetric dose. The
treatment combines the antitumor mechanisms of unlabeled tositumomab antibody
with targeted radiotherapy provided by iodine I-131 tositumomab.