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Targeting the B cell receptor signaling pathway in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Aberrant signal transduction through the B cell receptor (BCR) plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). BCR-dependent signaling is necessary for the growth and survival of neoplastic cells, making inhibition of down-stream pathways a logical therapeutic strategy. Indeed, selective inhibitors against Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) have been shown to induce high rates of response in CLL and other B cell lymphomas. In particular, the development of BTK inhibitors revolutionized the treatment approach to CLL, demonstrating long-term efficacy. While BTK inhibitors are widely used for multiple lines of treatment, PI3K inhibitors are much less commonly utilized, mainly due to toxicities. CLL remains an incurable disease and effective treatment options after relapse or development of TKI resistance are greatly needed. This review provides an overview of BCR signaling, a summary of the current therapeutic landscape, and a discussion of the ongoing trials targeting BCR-associated kinases.

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