Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at rituximab as an injection under the skin with chemotherapy for follicular lymphoma (SABRINA)
This trial was comparing different ways of having a drug called rituximab alongside chemotherapy as the first treatment for follicular lymphoma.
Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Doctors usually treat follicular lymphoma with chemotherapy and a drug called rituximab. Drug combinations called CHOP and CVP are 2 types of chemotherapy that they often use.
More about this trial
Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that targets a protein called CD20 on lymphoma cells. It sticks to all the CD20 proteins it finds. The cells of the immune system pick out the marked cells and kill them.
You usually have rituximab through a drip into a vein. In this trial, researchers were looking at giving it as an injection just under the skin (a subcutaneous injection).
The trial was in 2 parts. The aim of the first part was to look at what happened to subcutaneous rituximab in the body. This is called
The aim of the second part was to compare having standard rituximab through a drip into a vein with subcutaneous injections, alongside CHOP or CVP chemotherapy.
Summary of results
Results from the first part of the trial show that there is as much rituximab available in the bloodstream when you have it as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous rituximab), as there is when you have it through a drip into a vein (intravenous rituximab).
127 people joined the first part of the trial. They all had follicular lymphoma and hadn’t had any other treatment.
This was a randomised trial. The people taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups by a computer. Neither the people taking part, nor their doctors could choose which group they were in.
People in both groups had 1 dose of intravenous rituximab with their first cycle of chemotherapy. After that, people in one group had intravenous rituximab with each subsequent cycle of chemotherapy. People in the other group had subcutaneous rituximab with each cycle of chemotherapy.
The researchers looked at the amount of rituximab in the bloodstream after 7 cycles of treatment. They found that the level in the blood was as high in people who had subcutaneous rituximab as it was in people who had the drug through a drip into a vein.
People whose lymphoma got better during induction treatment carried on having intravenous or subcutaneous rituximab once every 8 weeks to stop the lymphoma coming back. This is called maintenance treatment.
In the second part of the trial, the researchers are comparing the 2 different ways of having rituximab to see if the injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) works as well as having it through a drip into the vein and what the side effects of these 2 treatments are. They have recruited enough people to look at this and when results are available from this part of the trial, we will update the information on this page.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Andrew Davies
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer