The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Rituxan (rituximab) to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), a slow progressing form of blood and bone marrow cancer.

The drug manufactured by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, is intended for patients with CLL who are beginning chemotherapy for the first time and for those who have not responded to other cancer drugs.

Rituxan, which is the third drug approved for the treatment of CLL since 2008, is administered with two other chemotherapy drugs, fludarabine and cyclophosphamide.

Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the surface of cancer cells, making it easier for the patient’s immune system to attack the cancer cell as if it were a foreign pathogen.