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.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Leukemia Microenvironment Novel Therapy