Treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma focuses on implementing standard treatment regimens to reduce long-term side effects and improve survivors’ quality of life. Researchers are looking for better ways to treat patients with recurrent cancer. Research on various treatment regimes such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is underway.
Introduction of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) is less common than other lymphomas. It mainly manifests in early adulthood (ages 20–39) and late adulthood (ages 65 and over). More than 75% of all adults with a recent diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be treated with standard chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both. Over the past 50 years, the number of deaths from Hodgkin’s lymphoma among adults has declined faster than the number of deaths from other types of cancer.
Researchers are now focusing on implementing standard treatment regimens to reduce long-term side effects and improve the quality of life of survivors. They are looking for better ways to treat patients with recurrent cancer.
Targeted therapies for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
A protein called CD30 is normally found on the surface of HL cells. A drug called brentuximab vedotin (Adcetis) that targets this protein has been approved as part of initial treatment for patients with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The use of these new drugs may help older patients avoid standard treatment with particularly toxic chemotherapy drugs. Brentuximab vedotin is currently being tested in clinical trials with other chemotherapeutic agents and immunotherapy1.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors
Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which help T cells better kill cancer cells, have been effective in some people with recurrent HL. Of these drugs, nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) are approved for some HL patients who have relapsed after previous treatment. Researchers are now testing the drug with other treatments that have previously been used to treat patients with cancers that can recur.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy
In this treatment, immune cells called T cells are removed from the patient’s blood and altered in the laboratory to have receptors called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, on their surface. These receptors can bind to proteins on the surface of lymphoma cells. The transformed T cells are then multiplied in the laboratory and returned to the patient’s blood. They can then look for lymphoma cells and launch a precise immune attack.
This technique has shown satisfactory results in early clinical trials for some difficult-to-treat HL. Doctors are still learning how to improve T cell production and make the best use of T cells. CAR T cell therapy is currently only available in clinical trials.
Monoclonal antibodies for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are versions of proteins produced by the human immune system. Some can kill cancer cells themselves. Others have added radioactive molecules or cytotoxins to help kill cancer cells. The advantage of this drug is that although it appears to target lymphoma cells, it has fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy drugs. It can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
Some mAbs, such as brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) and rituximab (Rituxan), are already used to treat some cases of HL. Researchers are currently investigating whether this drug may be useful in other ways. For example, brentuximab is currently being studied to see if it might be useful early in disease progression or as part of a treatment used to prepare for transplants. Rituximab is now under research to determine its efficacy in the treatment of classical forms of HL. Researchers are also exploring the best way to use mAbs with standard treatments. Several new mAbs are currently being studied2.
- 1.Advances in Lymphoma Research. National Cancer Institute. Published 2021. Accessed March 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/research
- 2.What’s New In Hodgkin Lymphoma Research? American Cancer Society. Published 2018. Accessed March 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/about/new-research.html