Published online Aug 16, 2015. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v3.i8.694
Peer-review started: November 29, 2014
First decision: December 12, 2014
Revised: December 23, 2014
Accepted: June 4, 2015
Article in press: June 8, 2015
Published online: August 16, 2015
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia in the western world. Despite significant advances in therapy over the last decade CLL remains incurable. Current front-line therapy often consists of chemoimmunotherapy-based regimens, most commonly the fludarabine, cyclophosphamide plus rituximab combination, but rates of relapse and refractory disease are high among these patients. Several key signaling pathways are now known to mediate the survival and proliferation of CLL cells in vivo, the most notable of which are the pathways mediated by the B-cell receptor (BCR) and cytokine receptors. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, the underlying biology of the CLL-cell and the roles of the tumour microenvironment has provided the rationale for trials of a range of novel, more targeted therapeutic agents. In particular, clinical trials of ibrutinib and idelalisib, which target the Brutons tyrosine kinase and the delta isoform of phosphoinositol-3 kinase components of the BCR signaling pathway respectively, have shown extremely promising results. Here we review the current literature on the key signaling pathways and interactions of CLL cells that mediate the survival and proliferation of the leukemic cells. For each we describe the results of the recent clinical trials and in vitro studies of novel therapeutic agents.
Core tip: The treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is in a period of unprecedented revolution. A better understanding of the mechanisms that drive the survival and proliferation of CLL cells has led to the development of novel therapeutic strategies. This review article is a timely summary of the results of many of the recent key clinical and pre-clinical studies of novel therapeutic agents for CLL.