CancerBortezomib (Velcade) has been approved in the UK for the first-line treatment of Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL), an aggressive subtype of blood cancers, collectively known as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). 

Recent clinical trial results have shown that patients with previously untreated MCL, who were unsuitable for blood stem-cell transplantation, had an improvement in progression free survival (PFS) compared to the control arm when treated with bortezomib in combination with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and prednisone (VR-CAP).

In the UK, approximately one in every twenty-five people will be diagnosed with a blood-based cancer during their lifetime. NHL is the sixth most common cancer in the UK, with latest data showing that more than 45,000 people are currently living with the disease. Of these, 1 in 20 people are affected by MCL (5%), which has a poor prognosis with fewer than three in ten patients surviving the disease for five years or more. 

Professor Simon Rule, Consultant Haematologist at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, said: “The launch of bortezomib is a step forward in the treatment of MCL and represents a significant advance in this disease setting. Bortezomib is already a well-known and widely used drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma. This launch in MCL is exciting as it represents a real change in the blood-based cancer treatment landscape and means that patients with the disease can experience a sustained disease-free period.”

Bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor, works by interrupting the normal function of cell proteasomes, causing susceptible cancer cells to stop growing and die. Bortezomib has been licensed for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a blood-based cancer, since 2004.