An international study has shown a strong response in patients treated with lenalidomide, a new oral drug to treat lymphoma.

Clinical trials, which involved 24 medical centres in the US and Europe, showed that 45% of patients with transformed lymphoma responded positively to lenalidomide.

Lenalidomide is an immunomodulatory medication that kills lymphoma cells by activating the body’s natural killer cells and by interrupting cancer cell signalling.

Of the patients treated through the Mayo Clinic, 21% showed complete remission, some for more than a year.

Transformed lymphoma is an aggressive form of blood cancer for which current therapies have only achieved a median survival rate of 1.7 years.

Lenalidomide is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat multiple myeloma and certain types of myelodysplastic syndrome.