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Goal of Targeted Therapy for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Targeted cancer therapies are designed to recognize a specific change in a cancer cell that drives the growth, division, and spread of cancer cells. These drugs zero in on their molecular or immunologic target. That's how they destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. They do this without affecting most normal, healthy cells. Because most healthy tissues are spared, these treatments tend to cause fewer and less severe side effects than other standard treatments.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a kind of targeted therapy. Recently this treatment has been developed for CLL. It precisely targets receptors on the outside of leukemia cells. The goal is to kill as many cancer cells as possible. It uses laboratory-created antibodies. They are similar to those your immune system makes naturally. They attach to cancer cells, killing them or blocking their growth. Monoclonal antibodies used to treat CLL include rituximab, alemtuzumab, and ofatumumab. 

Monoclonal antibodies may be used if your CLL requires treatment. They are often used (either along with chemotherapy or by themselves) as part of the initial treatment for CLL. They may also be used (alone or with chemotherapy) if the initial treatment doesn't work or if the leukemia returns.