New Hodgkin Lymphoma Protocol: Brentuximab Vedotin and Nivolumab

Bruce D. Cheson, MD


January 26, 2016

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This is Bruce Cheson from Georgetown University Hospital, the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Washington, DC, speaking to you for Medscape Hematology. Happy new year. It is now January 2016. That means that it has been almost 12 years since we embarked on a campaign to try to get rid of nonspecific, cytotoxic chemotherapy for the treatment of some non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Who would have thunk that we might have that possibility for diseases such as Hodgkin's lymphoma? It was not until December 2014 at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting that Philippe Armand presented exciting data[1] on the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab in relapsed and refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma. Steve Ansell, at the same time, published the same data in the New England Journal of Medicine.[2]

As soon as I heard that presentation, I ran, as fast as these little old legs could carry me, over to a colleague at Seattle Genetics and said, "I'm combining your drug, brentuximab vedotin, with their drug, nivolumab, as a frontline treatment in Hodgkin's lymphoma." To my surprise, he said, "Great idea." So I spent the next 11 months writing the protocol, and on New Year's Eve, of all times, the US Food and Drug Administration approved it.

So, starting now, as soon as it gets approved by institutional review boards, this protocol will be open at a number of sites around the country, including Georgetown University Hospital, John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Ohio State University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Chicago, and Stanford University. We are working on at least one European collaborator as well.

So if you have a patient who is over the age of 60, or is unable to receive standard ABVD therapy because of impaired cardiac or pulmonary function, please consider referring the patient to this exciting protocol. This will probably be the last protocol I will ever write, and hopefully it will provide some exciting results to move the field forward.

This is Bruce Cheson, signing off for Medscape Hematology. I hope this is a great year for all of you. Goodbye.


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