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What is Gazyva used for and how does it work?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on April 18, 2023.

Official answer

  • Gazyva is used to treat or delay the progression of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and follicular lymphoma.
  • It targets a specific antigen called CD20 on normal and cancerous B-lymphocytes, which signals the immune system to attack and destroy these cells.
  • Stem cells are unaffected because they do not have this antigen.

Gazyva (obinutuzumab) is an intravenous medication that is used to treat or delay the progression of certain types of cancer, usually in combination with other treatments, for example:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: This is the most common leukemia in adults. It affects the B-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the bone marrow first
  • Follicular lymphoma: This is a cancer of the lymphatic system caused by abnormal B lymphocytes.

How does Gazyva work?

Gazyva is a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system. They are a type of “targeted” cancer treatment but they are usually only given for cancers in which antigens (and their specific antibodies) have been identified already.

Gazyva targets a specific antigen called CD20 that is a type of protein found on normal and cancerous B-lymphocytes. Gazyva binds to this protein which signals cells in our immune system to attack and kill the marked B-cells. This happens via several different mechanisms, such as activation of signaling pathways that trigger cell death.

Although Gazyva causes cell death in both normal and malignant B-cells, stem cells, which are young cells in the bone marrow that develop into various types of cells, do not have the CD20 antigen and will not be attacked.


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