Charles Farber, MD, PhD, hematologist/oncologist at Atlantic Hematology Oncology, located at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, and medical director of Oncology Research Network Development for Atlantic Health System, is leading a new study that will allow patients with a rare type of blood-cell cancer to get access to a new treatment now in use for another type of lymphoma. 

The study, which is for patients who have a type of lymphoma known as Waldenström macroglobulinemia, uses a new drug known as a kinase inhibitor, which works by blocking a pathway that is altered in cancer to provide an advantage to cancer cells. Although a rare, slow-growing cancer, having Waldenström macroglobulinemia increases the risk of developing other types of cancer. The study is funded by biotechnology company Beigene.

Patients not enrolled in the clinical trial may also be able to gain access to this drug.

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“We are fortunate to be able to offer this new treatment option for Waldenström macroglobulinemia,” said Dr. Farber.  “It is especially important because these patients are frequently not eligible for other clinical trials with a kinase inhibitor.” 

Waldenström macroglobulinemia is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer cells make large amounts of an abnormal protein (called a macroglobulin). Another name for this cancer is lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. This lymphoma starts in B cells, immune system cells that change into plasma cells, which normally attack infection. The cancer cells in people with Waldenström macroglobulinemia are similar to those of two other types of cancer: multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Multiple myeloma is considered a cancer of plasma cells, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of immune system lymphocyte cells.  Waldenström cells have features of both plasma cells and lymphocytes and are called lymphoplasmacytoid.

“I am hopeful that this next-generation kinase inhibitor proves to be as successful at fighting blood cancers as other cancer drugs in this class,” said Dr. Farber. 

To request more information about this clinical trial at Atlantic Health System Cancer Care, go to atlantichealth.org/cancer.