Targeted therapy for ALL
Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific features of cancer cells, known as molecular targets, to stop the cancer growing and spreading.
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These targeted therapy drugs are often used to treat people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) who have the Philadelphia chromosome. They work by blocking a protein called tyrosine kinase, which tells the leukaemia cells to grow and multiply. Without this signal, the cells die.
TKIs such as imatinib, dasatinib and ponatinib are taken as tablets once or twice a day. You may have TKIs on their own or in combination with chemotherapy.
Side effects may include:
- nausea and vomiting
- skin rashes
- facial, hand or leg swelling
- anaemia, bruising or infections.
Monoclonal antibodies are manufactured (synthetic) versions of immune system proteins called antibodies. The synthetic antibodies lock onto specific proteins on the surface of leukaemia cells to interfere with their growth or survival.
Monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab and blinatumomab are sometimes used for particular types of ALL. They are given through a drip into a vein (intravenously), either on their own or with chemotherapy.
For more on this, see Targeted therapy.
Video: What is targeted therapy?
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A/Prof John Moore (Conjoint UNSW), Senior Staff Specialist Haematology, Department of Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital; Glynda Blomson, Consumer; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital; Sharon Frazer, Consumer; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Karen Maddock, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Haematology, Westmead Hospital.
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