Research into blood cancer treatment has discovered a new treatment that targets the very production of tumorous cells. Idelalisib is a new medical drug that has been approved by the FDA as an effective and reliable medication. It is manufactured in tablet form by Gilead Sciences under the commercial name Zydelig.
Idelalisib inhibits the function of the enzyme phosphoinositide 3-kinase delta, which plays an important role in controlling cellular growth and metabolism. This protein also has many active receptors for malignant B-cells and also fuels their growth. The drug suppresses the activity of PI3K delta, blocking tumorous B-cell growth, as well as cellular pathways that could promote the growth of tumors. Research into the effects of idelalisib treatment of different types of blood cancer has revealed positive and promising results.
Proven effective against several types of blood cancers
Idelalisib tablets have proven successful in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (FL), and indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (iNHL). For CLL, idelalisib is prescribed along with rituximab, which also targets harmful B cells. Research has shown the treatment produced as much as a 70% increase in overall survival in relapsed CLL patients who could no longer undergo chemotherapy. Patients were also reported to have lived as long as 10 months without their disease worsening, which is twice as long as their health would have lasted without the treatment. They claimed their cancer appeared to have melted away.
Similar positive effects have also been reported for SLL and FL. Clinical trials have shown that 54% of FL patients and 58% of SLL patients experienced partial or complete disappearance of their cancers. In iNHL patients, up to 57% have claimed that their tumors have shrunk to half of their original size. As with CLL, iNHL idelalisib treatment is also supplemented with rituximab.
Less harmful effect than chemotherapies
While there are still many safety precautions advised for taking the drug, especially while pregnant or if the patient has any pre-existing health conditions, idelalisib treatment is still arguably less damaging to the immune system than chemotherapy. Aside from the irreversible damage to the immune system, chemotherapy can also cause myelosupression, bone marrow failure, and may even lead to the formation of more cancers.
The common side effects of idelalisib are skin irritation, cough, fever, and diarrhea. The most serious reactions include anaphylaxis, liver problems, pneumonitis, and perforations in the intestines. Both chemotherapy and idelalisib can produce serious health problems, however, the side effects chemotherapy can produce are much more permanent. Chemotherapy also leaves the patient feeling weak and drained during treatment. Medical experts are starting to change their recommended treatment for blood cancers to idelalisib for its effectiveness and safer use.
Less risky than invasive treatments
Aside of chemotherapy, another blood cancer treatment is blood transfusion. There are multiple risks associated with transfusion, such as acute immune and delayed hemolytic reactions against the transfused blood cells. The patient could also contract infections, such as hepatitis, sepsis, and HIV. Another treatment is a bone marrow transplant, which presents similar risks. The graft cells could attack its host and lead to graft versus host disease. Infection is also always a risk with transplants. Idelalisib does not present any of these risks, as it is a non-invasive treatment and will not lead to infection or adverse reactions to foreign cells. It is administered in a much simpler manner and with considerably less risk.
Provides treatment for patients unfit for chemotherapy
The bodies of many cancer patients who have relapsed after previous therapy are often too weak to continue with chemotherapy. Idelalisib is a safer mode of treatment for such patients and is less likely to further weaken their damaged immune systems. The successful trials performed for CLL, SLL, and FL were all conducted on patients undergoing relapse. In addition, because it is taken orally, it can be administered for longer periods. Idelalisib is also the recommended treatment for patients with previous health conditions or co-morbidities, as their bodies would also be too weak for chemotherapy.
More accessible treatment for more patients
Once it has been distributed to global pharmaceutical companies, idelalisib will be the most readily available and accessible treatment for blood cancer. It is less costly than invasive surgeries or radiation therapy, helping people with the illness to sustain their regular treatment in an affordable means. Idelalisib is also a less intimidating form of treatment for patients, as many would undoubtedly be hesitant to undergo chemotherapy or surgery. It provides treatment to a larger number of patients too.
A new area of study into more potential cancer treatments
Studies on the chemical function of idelalisib have opened a new area of interest for medical researchers. More experiments have gone underway to develop new PI3K delta inhibitor drugs to develop new kinds of treatment for most blood cancers and other kinds of cancer as well. Perifosine acts as an inhibitor and is being studied for its potential effects on colon cancer and multiple myeloma. BEZ235 is an organic PI3K delta inhibitor that is also being studied as a possible cancer treatment, and has shown promising results against lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. Similar substances to idelalisib have also proven effective against indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This research into PI3K delta inhibitors may result in more effective and safer treatments for all cancer patients.