Emerging therapies for the management of Richter transformation

Journal of Clinical Oncology

21st September 2022

Richter transformation (RT) refers to the development of an aggressive lymphoma in patients with underlying chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma. Aside from a small subgroup of patients with clonally unrelated and previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the disease responds poorly to standard therapies and prognosis is dismal.

Recent developments in the understanding of the biology of RT and the advent of several targeted agents may result in improved outcomes for these patients. The purpose of this review is to analyze recent data on the pathogenesis and treatment of RT. We reviewed studies addressing the pathophysiology of RT and analyzed the data for frontline chemoimmunotherapy and emerging targeted therapies likely to play a significant role in the future management of RT.

Several biologic and clinical factors may help identify those who are unlikely to respond to conventional chemoimmunotherapy; where possible, these patients should be managed with a novel approach. Emerging therapies for the management of RT include chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, noncovalent Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and T-cell-engaging bispecific antibodies. The use of less toxic and more effective targeted therapies may result in improved outcomes. Larger, prospective clinical trials are required to confirm efficacy and safety of novel agents for the management of RT, particularly when used in combination with other targeted therapies and in addition to chemoimmunotherapy regimens.

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