NHL is caused by the abnormal proliferation of lymphocytes, cells key to the functioning of the immune system. It usually originates in lymph nodes and spreads through the lymphatic system. NHL can be broadly classified into two main forms—aggressive NHL is a rapidly growing form of the disease that moves into advanced stages much faster than indolent NHL, which progresses more slowly. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer's 2008 GLOBOCAN database most recent estimates state that in European Union approximately 74,162 people will be diagnosed with NHL and 31,371 are estimated to die from NHL every year.
There are many subtypes of NHL, but aggressive NHL is one of the more common types of NHL and accounts for about 60% of cases. Initial therapy for aggressive NHL with anthracycline-based combination therapy cures up to 60% of patients. Of the remaining patients, approximately half will respond to second-line treatment, but few are cured and there is no effective therapy for patients relapsing after or refractory to second-line treatment.
About Pixuvri (pixantrone)
Pixantrone is a novel aza-anthracenedione that has distinct structural and physio-chemical properties that make its anti-tumor activity unique in this class of agents. Similar to anthracyclines, pixantrone inhibits Topo-isomerase II but unlike anthracyclines -- rather than intercalation with DNA -- pixantrone alkylates DNA -- forming stable DNA adducts with particular specificity for CpG-rich, hyper-methylated sites. These structural differences resulted in significantly enhanced anti-lymphoma activity compared to doxorubicin in preclinical models. In addition, the structural motifs on anthracycline-like agents that are responsible for the generation of oxygen free radicals and the formation of toxic drug-metal complexes have also been modified in pixantrone in an effort to prevent the binding of iron and perpetuation of superoxide production -- both of which are the putative mechanism for anthracycline induced acute cardiotoxicity. These novel pharmacologic differences may allow re-introduction of anthracycline-like potency in the treatment of relapsed/refractory B-cell NHL without unacceptable rates of cardiotoxicity.