Shedding Light on Unmet Needs in Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma

December 2019

It’s an important moment to call attention to blood cancers with critical unmet needs and our efforts to bring novel therapies to those battling cancer. This past Saturday marked the start of the premier scientific meeting in hematology and hematology-oncology, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 61st Annual Meeting & Exposition, dedicated to advancing care for people with blood diseases, including cancer. Clinicians and scientists from around the world are currently gathered in Orlando to share cutting-edge research and clinical updates in the field of hematology during ASH.

The annual meeting is a moment to renew and ignite inspiration for the science of hematology and for people battling cancer everywhere. As we near the end of the meeting, our team has started reflecting on the many inspiring conversations we have had over the past few days with hematology researchers and clinicians at ASH, particularly with those who share a common interest in advancing the treatment landscape and standard of care for patients with Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma (PTCL), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma with high unmet needs. PTCL is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that occurs in white blood cells called T-cells. In the United States, the disease is uncommon, accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas.1 As a result, there is little consensus on how to treat it and options are greatly limited for patients.

A primary challenge in PTCL is that there are many different subtypes of the disease, all of which are rare, with each subtype having distinct clinical characteristics that makes PTCL difficult to diagnose and treat. Unfortunately, outcomes are generally poor for patients with PTCL, across nearly all subtypes. Because T-cell lymphomas are rare, fast growing and heterogeneous, recruiting patients for clinical trials can be a challenge. As a result, data are lacking on effective and safe therapies and no clear standard of care has been established for treatment of PTCL in both newly diagnosed patients and those who experience relapsed or refractory PTCL.

Treatment usually consists of high-dose combination chemotherapy regimens and in some cases, stem cell transplant. These treatments can cause serious side effects, however, and some patients aren’t able to tolerate treatment. Relapse is common in PTCL and 5-year overall survival rates are low, generally 10 to 30 percent.2

Therapeutic options are greatly needed to improve the prognosis of PTCL and outcomes for patients. Advances have been made in recent years in molecular testing to better identify the subtypes of T-cell lymphomas and their natural history and target therapy more effectively. Novel therapies and new therapeutic approaches, evaluated in rigorous and well controlled clinical studies, seek to move the needle in PTCL and advance standard of care for patients.

At ASH, our team had the opportunity to present findings from our ongoing studies in PTCL and discuss with others what this data might mean for the PTCL treatment landscape. We’re committed to altering the course of disease that gives hope to patients with T-cell lymphomas who need alternative therapies. We look forward to continuing our work in this disease area and furthering our mission of advancing options and improving outcomes for patients.

“I am proud to be part of the team at Verastem Oncology working tirelessly to advance understanding of PTCL and expand options for patients.”

  – Jon Pachter, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer