DENVER (CBS4)– For the first time in 34 years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug to treat Hodgkin Lymphoma. A doctor in Denver was one of the primary investigators for the treatment.

The medicine is proving successful in patients who have tried everything else. That’s why the FDA expedited approval.

Penny Bristol has battled Hodgkin Lymphoma for the past 12 years. She was diagnosed five months after her daughter was born.

“There have been a lot of highs and lows,” said Bristol.

Bristol has had two stem cell transplants, seven types of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation and participated in six clinical trials.

“The treatments themselves, some of them were unsuccessful, others had side effects that really were unmanageable,” said Bristol.

She finally found a treatment that worked- SGN-35.

“A miracle. I guess that sounds a little trite, but for me, it has been that,” said Bristol.

The medication was being studied at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute at Presbyterian St. Luke’s in Denver.

“The last year or so I’ve been desperate for new treatments for Penny,” said Dr. Jeff Matous, who was one of the researchers and is Penny’s doctor.

SGN-35 seemed promising not only because it attacks the Lymphoma cell, “It also carries on its back a medication toxin that delivers right to the cancer cell. That’s what kills the cancer cell,” said Matous.

SGN-35 is now called Adcetris. It’s the first FDA approved for Hodgkin Lymphoma in more than three decades. It’s been life changing for patients like Penny.

“I feel so much better right now than I have in a long time,” said Bristol.

She will be infused every three weeks. Adcetris is not a cure, but Bristol and many other patients hope it buys them time.

Adcetris is also FDA approved to treat a rare type of Lymphoma known as ALCL. It does have possible side effects that include fatigue, nausea and some nerve damage in the fingers and toes.


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