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Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2012;2012:645-51. doi: 10.1182/asheducation-2012.1.645.

B- and T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia: antibody approaches.

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  • 1Department of Haemato-Oncology, The Royal Marsden Hospital and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.


B- and T-cell subtypes of prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL) are rare, aggressive lymphoid malignancies with characteristic morphologic, immunophenotypic, cytogenetic, and molecular features. Prognosis for these patients remains poor, with short survival times and no curative therapy. The advent of mAbs has improved treatment options. In B-PLL, rituximab-based combination chemoimmunotherapy is effective in fitter patients. TP53 abnormalities are common and, as for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, these patients should generally be managed using an alemtuzumab-based therapy. Currently, the best treatment for T-PLL is IV alemtuzumab, which has resulted in very high response rates of more than 90% when given as frontline treatment and a significant improvement in survival. Consolidation of remissions with autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation further prolongs survival times, and the latter may offer potential cure. The role of allogeneic transplantation with nonmyeloablative conditioning needs to be explored further in both T- and B-PLL to broaden the patient eligibility for what may be a curative treatment.

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