Jan A. Burger, MD, PhD, on CLL Research Coming Out of ASH

The leukemia expert discussed exciting research being presented at this year’s ASH Annual Meeting.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Jan A. Burger, MD, PhD, of the Department of Leukemia in the Division of Cancer Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discussed influential research being presented at the 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).


Well, as I said, the abstract kind of fits together with data which are presented at this ASH conference, but also published earlier this year, to say if we look at these studies with BTK inhibitors with longer follow up, the survival benefit, especially also for the high-risk patients, is ongoing. So that's very exciting.

The other exciting thing at this conference and last year's ASH abstract is how do we best use and take benefit from these new targeted agents. And the other exciting developments that I see are combination approaches, where we combine BTK inhibitors with other agents, especially with venetoclax (Venclexta), or maybe other BCL-2 antagonists, CD-20 antibodies, in order to get patients into deeper remissions, and then maybe transition from very long term use of BTK inhibitors towards maybe shorter treatment regimen where patients can be treated for a limited time and therefore, have maybe a year or 2 years of treatment with these agents, and then can take a break.

So that's something I think that's going to continue to be interesting. We don't have too many data on that yet, but I think that's going to continue to be an interesting and exciting theme – combination treatments based on BTK inhibitors.