Immunotherapy with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab has been shown in clinical trials to be effective in the treatment of both indolent and aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphomas (NHL). Recent studies have demonstrated improved clinical benefit with extended dose and maintenance therapies in patients with indolent lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Rituximabs label was recently expanded to include treatment of bulky disease, retreatment of patients previously treated with rituximab, and an eight-week extended treatment schedule. Rituximab has also been effectively combined with chemotherapy, resulting in higher response rates and longer response durations in randomized trials in patients with aggressive lymphoma. Studies continue to evaluate and expand the role of rituximab in the treatment of NHL, including its use in combined immunotherapy approaches and autologous stem cell transplant as well as in the treatment of autoimmune disorders. Radioimmunotherapy with the rituximab and ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin) regimen was recently approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory low-grade, follicular or CD20+ transformed NHL, including rituximab refractory follicular NHL. The regimen is delivered on an outpatient basis over the course of a week. Studies are currently exploring sequential dose therapy, radioimmunotherapy with rituximab maintenance, and ibritumomab tiuxetan radioimmunotherapy as part of autologous stem cell transplant. Current understanding of the mechanisms of action of rituximab and the use of rituximab and ibritumomab tiuxetan in patients with indolent and aggressive NHL will be discussed.
Keywords: rituximab, ibritumomab tiuxetan, immunotherapy, radioimmunotherapy, lymphoma
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