New Drugs for the Treatment of Advanced-Stage Diffuse Large Cell Lymphomas
Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse
The rapid pace of discovering new signaling pathways that influence the growth and survival of different types of cancer cells has produced a daunting array of potentially new, "drugable" targets for the treatment of cancer. This has been particularly true for the lymphomas. The empiric observation that many kinds of "novel targeted" drugs appear to exhibit relatively selective patterns of activity is testament to the concept that the lymphomas represent an incredibly diverse group of human cancers. Targeting one pathway in a subtype of lymphoma may not be universally effective against all subtypes of lymphoma, even closely related ones. These observations suggest that pharmacologically driven "target identification" plays an important role in the continued development of new therapeutic agents, and underscores the need for more research into the biologic basis for different subtypes of lymphoma. Over the past 10 years, there has been an explosion of new drugs making their way through preclinical laboratories and early clinical studies. These experiences have taught us some frustrating lessons. Sometimes, the strongest biologic rationale is associated with the poorest clinical results. Sometimes, where no rationale exists, golden therapeutic opportunities emerge. In either case, both experiences typically end up teaching us something about the disease we didn't historically appreciate. In this review, we will take a close look at some of the more intriguing targets in aggressive large B-cell lymphomas, all of which now have small molecules that can profoundly affect their activity, activity we hope will lead to new treatment opportunities. We will focus on the biologic rationale for targeting novel pathways regulated by Bcl-6, Bcl-2, BLysS, and APRIL for example. In addition, we will review how new concepts in structural biology and chemical design can help produce new generation compounds with novel activity, as is the case for pralatrexate and targeting the reduced folate carrier-type-1. Clearly, given the breadth and depth of information emerging on these and other relevant biologic pathways, we are limited to discussing only a few illustrative examples, which should in no way detract from the importance of other critical signaling and survival pathways now being exploited in the treatment of lymphoma.