Research ArticleCancer

Epigenetic therapy overcomes treatment resistance in T cell prolymphocytic leukemia

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Science Translational Medicine  24 Jun 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 293, pp. 293ra102
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa5079

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A second chance for leukemia therapy

T cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) is a rare and aggressive type of leukemia, which is usually difficult to treat. Alemtuzumab, a monoclonal anti-CD52 antibody, is currently used to treat this disease, but patients quickly develop resistance to alemtuzumab or do not respond to it altogether. Now, Hasanali et al. show that epigenetic therapy can help overcome drug resistance in T-PLL patients. In addition, the epigenetic drugs frequently up-regulated CD30 on the surface of leukemia cells, which allowed subsequent successful treatment with brentuximab vedotin, an antibody-drug conjugate targeting CD30. The findings suggest a new treatment regimen for this challenging disease and demonstrate a potential approach to successfully combining epigenetic and immunotherapy.