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ASH 2023: Treating BTK Resistant CLL with Ibrutinib and Venetoclax
Posted: Jan 31, 2024
ASH 2023: Treating BTK Resistant CLL with Ibrutinib and Venetoclax image

CLL specialist Dr. Kerry Rogers from Ohio State University shared her research findings with HealthTree at the recent ASH 2023 conference. She discussed how combining the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib (Imbruvica) with the BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax (Venclexta) is helping CLL patients who had previously developed resistance to ibrutinib. Watch her interview below, or read the summary of her interview.

Understanding BTK Inhibitors in CLL Treatment

BTK inhibitors which include ibrutinib (Imbruvica), acalabrutinib (Calquence), and zanubrutinib (Brukinsa), are commonly used to treat CLL. They are typically given indefinitely until the patient either cannot tolerate them or the CLL cells become resistant, leading to a relapse. A major challenge in CLL treatment has been managing cases where the leukemia cells develop resistance to BTK inhibitors. 

Dr. Rogers and her team conducted a clinical trial to explore a new approach: combining ibrutinib with venetoclax for patients whose CLL had developed resistance to ibrutinib. The goal was to achieve a deep remission (reduction of CLL signs/symptoms), allowing patients to enjoy a period without treatment.  

About Dr. Rogers’ Study 

  • The study included 28 patients who were already on ibrutinib for CLL and had mutations in their leukemia cells that led to ibrutinib resistance. 
  • CLL patients were treated with venetoclax and ibrutinib for one year. 
  • At the end of the year, 43% of patients were able to achieve remission and stop treatment. 
  • The treatment combination helped patients remain in remission for an average of 3.4 years before relapsing. 

Why This Matters for CLL Patients

This research is important for CLL patients for several reasons:

  • Extended remission: The treatment combination has the potential to extend the amount of time you remain in remission. 
  • Reduced treatment duration: The possibility of discontinuing treatment while in remission may improve your quality of life, reducing the side effects and stress associated with having to take continuous medication. 
  • Future research and treatment options: This study sets the stage for future research, potentially leading to better combination therapies and offering hope for patients with BTK inhibitor-resistant CLL. 


Dr. Rogers' work represents a step forward in the treatment of CLL, especially for those with resistance to ibrutinib. As a patient, staying informed about these developments is important. They offer hope and practical pathways to better manage your condition. Continued research and clinical trials like this are key to advancing the understanding and treatment of CLL, ultimately leading to more effective and personalized care options. Remember, discussing these developments with your healthcare provider is essential to determine how they might apply to your specific situation. 

Interested in Accelerating Research? Join HealthTree Cure Hub!

Are you interested in accelerating research toward a cure for CLL? We have created a powerful patient data portal named HealthTree Cure Hub for this very purpose. We invite you to join the 12,000-and-counting blood cancer patients who are collaborating with specialists through research surveys and studies in HealthTree Cure Hub. YOU are the key to improving CLL care. We are grateful for your time and support in helping us progress toward a CLL cure. Create your free HealthTree Cure Hub account by visiting the link below!

Create My HealthTree Cure Hub Account

The author Megan Heaps

about the author
Megan Heaps

Megan joined HealthTree in 2022. As a writer and the daughter of a blood cancer patient, she is dedicated to helping patients and their caregivers understand the various aspects of their disease. This understanding enables them to better advocate for themselves and improve their treatment outcomes. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family. 

Thanks to our HealthTree Community for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Sponsors:


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