Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic - CLL: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about CLL and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu.

Doctors are working to learn more about CLL, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Most cancer centers are focused on clinical trials aimed at increasing the number of patients who have a complete remission. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

  • New drugs and drug combinations.Researchers are working to find new drugs for CLL. Different combinations of chemotherapy and targeted therapy are also being studied as a way to increase the likelihood that a patient will have a complete remission and live longer. There are many new drugs for CLL, including many new kinase inhibitors, being evaluated in clinical trials for patients with recurrent CLL with the hope of testing some of these drugs as initial therapy in the near future. 

    • Researchers are also looking at combining ibrutinib with bendamustine, ofatumumab, and rituximab.

    • Idelalisib is being studied in combination with bendamustine, rituximab, and ofatumumab.

    • Xm5574 is a monoclonal antibody also being researched for treatment of CLL.

    • Lenalidomide (Revlimid) is drug commonly used to treat multiple myeloma that is also being looked at as a treatment for CLL, either by itself or in combination with several different drugs for patients with recurrent or refractory CLL, as well as for those who have not yet received treatment.

    • Dinaciclib is another drug being researched for CLL.

    • Duvelisib, a type of kinase inhibitor is also being researched.

  • Genetics. Genetic changes specific to CLL cells are also being evaluated to help predict how well treatment will work, determine the best treatment, and provide information about the cause of the disease. Examples include:

    • Measuring the immunoglobulin mutations of the CLL cells

    • Finding different chromosomal abnormalities in the CLL cells

    • Studying the effects of a protein called ZAP-70, which is found on the surface of the CLL cells

Some research suggests that these markers can predict the likelihood that the disease may worsen faster. However, there is often a large difference in how well treatment works for patients who seem to have the same genetic markers, and it is too early to use these tests to make decisions about when to begin treatment and the type of treatment to use.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current CLL treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

  • If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding CLL, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

  • To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.

  • Review research announced at the 2015 and 2014 ASCO Annual Meetings and in ASCO’s 2015 Clinical Cancer Advances report that features CLL advances.

  • Listen to a podcast from and ASCO expert discussing highlights from recent scientific meetings.

  • Visit the website of the Conquer Cancer Foundation to find out how to help support research for every cancer type. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website. 

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.