A new drug for treatment of lymphoma, rituximab (Rituxan), has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug has been approved as a maintenance therapy medication for patients who will use the medication in conjunction with chemotherapy.
The drug has already been approved for treatment of other diseases, specifically for hematologic cancers. Rituximab can also be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The drug targets the CD20 molecule in B cells that produce antibodies.
Companies marketing rituximab in the United States, Genentech and Biogen Idec, have explained the approval from the FDA was due to the results from a successful study that was completed last year.
The study showed that when taking the drug, patients progression-free rate of survival increased nearly 200 percent for those who continued medicating with rituximab.
It is estimated that 13,000 individuals are diagnosed with follicular lymphoma each year in the United States.