Two types of effective treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are cell signaling inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies.
Click to enlarge/download [Illustration by Erin Moore]
Cell signaling inhibitors block overactive communication pathways, which send messages from the surface of a cancer cell to its nucleus. Blocking this communication stops the cell’s growth and survival. The leading molecules, or message transmitters, in this pathway are phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K), Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Blocking these kinases with drugs like idelalisib (Zydelig), ibrutinib (Imbruvica), everolimus (Afinitor) or temsirolimus (Torisel) stops the cancer cells from growing.
Monoclonal antibodies recruit the immune system’s natural killer cells to attack the tumor. They do this by targeting specific receptors on the cell surface to initiate an immune response against the cancer. These agents may also bind to complement proteins to form holes in the cell membrane or block cell signaling, leading to self-destruction. Additionally, monoclonal antibodies can be used to deliver chemotherapy or radiation directly into the cancer cell. Monoclonal antibodies used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma include rituximab (Rituxan), obinutuzumab (Gazyva), ofatumumab (Arzerra), epratuzumab, brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) and ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin).