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The STELLAR trial: Finding new treatments for Richter’s syndrome

Richter’s syndrome is a complication of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and is a condition very difficult to treat. In this trial, Dr Anna Schuh will add an additional drug to current treatment for Richter’s syndrome to see if this improves the outcome.

The context

Richter’s syndrome happens when chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common blood cancer world-wide, transforms into an aggressive blood cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which is very difficult to treat. While Richter’s syndrome is relatively uncommon, the number of people with this condition is growing because advances in the treatment of CLL mean that more people are living longer. Sadly, people with Richter’s syndrome have a short life expectancy - usually a few months after diagnosis. Currently, the condition is treated with a therapy called CHOP-R, a combination of a targeted drug, a steroid, and three chemotherapy drugs. While people with Richter’s syndrome do respond to this treatment, they may not survive very long.

The project

Researchers want to find new ways to treat Richter’s syndrome. In this trial, they plan to compare how well people with this condition respond to standard treatment (CHOP-R) to this treatment plus another targeted drug called acalabrutinib. Based on their earlier research, they believe that more people will respond to this treatment and also that the response will be longer compared to the current treatment.

The aims

  • See how well Richter’s syndrome responds to standard treatment alone in comparison to standard treatment followed by acalabrutinib
  • Find out the length of time that passes before the Richter’s syndrome gets worse in each treatment.