For decades, treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has been based on chemotherapy. This changed when the first CD20 antibody rituximab was introduced. Since 2008, the combination of chemotherapy and CD20 antibodies has become the standard of care for most patients, and a significant fraction of patients had very long-lasting remissions after chemoimmunotherapy. Despite the improvement of response rates and overall survival (OS) by the use of chemoimmunotherapy, most CLL patients will relapse eventually. One approach to achieve more durable responses was the development of obinutuzumab (GA101), a new type of CD20 antibody that has unique molecular and functional characteristics. Obinutuzumab is a type II fully humanized CD20 antibody that binds to a partly different epitope of the CD20 protein than rituximab and due to its glycoengineered design induces greater antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Initial preclinical observations of a more effective B-cell depletion have been successfully reproduced in clinical trials with CLL patients. This review summarizes results of preclinical as well as clinical studies with obinutuzumab and provides an outlook on its future role in the therapy of CLL.
Keywords: CD20 antibody; GA101; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; obinutuzumab.