Commentary on Abstracts #481, #2672, #2673, and #1713

March 1, 1999

Rituximab is highly effective in eradicating detectable lymphoma cells from the peripheral blood and bone marrow of patients with follicular NHL and can render most patientsPCR-negative. Several studies at ASH evaluated the ability of this antibody to provide effective in vivo purging, permitting the harvesting of large numbers of PCR-negative stem cells for autologous BMT (Gianni et al, abstract #481; Buckstein et al, abstract #2672). Engraftment has been successful in the few patients transplanted to date (Flinn et al, abstract #2673). Obviously, longer follow-up of larger numbers of patients is needed to better evaluate the long-term impact of this approach.

Rituximab is highly effective in eradicating detectable lymphoma cells from the peripheral blood and bone marrow of patients with follicular NHL and can render most patientsPCR-negative. Several studies at ASH evaluated the ability of this antibody to provide effective in vivo purging, permitting the harvesting of large numbers of PCR-negative stem cells for autologous BMT (Gianni et al, abstract #481; Buckstein et al, abstract #2672). Engraftment has been successful in the few patients transplanted to date (Flinn et al, abstract #2673). Obviously, longer follow-up of larger numbers of patients is needed to better evaluate the long-term impact of this approach.

Tsai et al (abstract #1713) made the interesting and somewhat surprising observation of a high response rate with rituximab in patients with intermediate-grade NHL who progressed after high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem-cell transplantation. The fact that a patient attained a complete remission, together with the five partial remissions observed in seven patients, has stimulated interest in larger studies to confirm the efficacy of this antibody in such a poor-risk patient group.