Publications by authors named "Claudia Cellini"

29 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Low-Dose Cyclophosphamide versus Intermediate-High-Dose Cyclophosphamide versus Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor Alone for Stem Cell Mobilization in Multiple Myeloma in the Era of Novel Agents: A Multicenter Retrospective Study.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 Mar 28;27(3):244.e1-244.e8. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Hematology Unit, Romagna Transplant Center, Hospital of Ravenna, Ravenna, Italy. Electronic address:

The optimal stem cell (SC) mobilization strategy for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) remains a matter of debate. Possible approaches include low or high doses of cyclophosphamide (Cy), other chemotherapeutic agents, or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) alone. The scope of the study was to compare low-dose Cy plus G-CSF versus intermediate-high-dose Cy plus G-CSF versus G-CSF alone for SC mobilization in MM, in terms of efficacy and safety. We retrospectively analyzed 422 MM patients undergoing SC mobilization in 6 Italian centers, including 188 patients who received low-dose Cy (LD-Cy group, defined as 2 g/m), 163 patients who received intermediate-high-dose Cy (HD-Cy group, defined as ≥ 3 g/m), and 71 patients who received G-CSF alone (G-CSF group). The median peak of circulating CD34+ cells was 77/µL in the LD-Cy group, 92/µL in the HD-Cy group, and 55/µL in the G-CSF group (P = .0001). The median amount of SCs collected was 9.1 × 10/kg, 9.7 × 10/kg, and 5.6 × 10/kg in the 3 groups, respectively (P = .0001). The rate of mobilization failure (defined as failure to collect ≥2 × 10/kg) was 3.7% in the LD-Cy group, 3.4% in the HD-Cy group, and 4.3% in the G-CSF group (P = .9). The target SC dose of at least 4 × 10/kg was reached in 90.4%, 91.1%, and 78.6% of the patients in these 3 groups, respectively (P = .014). The "on demand" use of plerixafor was higher in the G-CSF group (76%) compared with the LD-Cy group (19%) and the HD-Cy group (6%). In multivariate analysis, G-CSF mobilization and previous use of melphalan or radiotherapy were independently associated with failure to collect the target SC dose of ≥4 × 10/kg. No impacts of age, blood counts, or previous treatment with lenalidomide, bortezomib, or carfilzomib were observed. Our results suggest that LD-Cy may be considered for successful SC mobilization in patients with MM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2020.12.009DOI Listing
March 2021

Dose/Schedule-Adjusted Rd-R vs Continuous Rd for elderly, intermediate-fit, newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients.

Blood 2021 Mar 19. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

University of Torino, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, Torino, Italy.

Lenalidomide-dexamethasone (Rd) is a standard treatment for elderly multiple myeloma (MM) patients. In this randomized, phase III study, we investigated the efficacy and feasibility of a dose/schedule-adjusted Rd followed by maintenance 10 mg/day without dexamethasone (Rd-R) vs continuous Rd in elderly, intermediate-fit newly diagnosed MM patients. The primary endpoint was event-free survival (EFS), defined as progression/death for any cause, lenalidomide discontinuation, any hematologic grade 4 or non-hematologic grade 3-4 adverse events (AEs). Of the 199 evaluable patients, 101 received Rd-R and 98 continuous Rd. Median follow-up was 37 months. Best response rates were comparable: ≥ partial response rates were 78% vs 68% (p=0.15) in Rd-R vs continuous Rd groups. EFS was 10.4 with Rd-R vs 6.9 months with continuous Rd (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.51-0.95, p=0.02). Median progression-free survival was 20.2 vs 18.3 months (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.55-1.10, p=0.16), 3-year overall survival was 74% vs 63% (HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.37-1.03, p=0.06). At least 1 non-hematologic grade ≥3 AE rate was 33% vs 43% (p=0.14); the most frequent grade ≥3 AEs were neutropenia (21% vs 18%), infections (10% vs 12%) skin disorders (7% vs 3%) in Rd-R vs Rd; constitutional and central nervous system AEs mainly related to dexamethasone were more frequent with continuous Rd. Lenalidomide was discontinued for AEs in 24% vs 30% and was reduced in 45% vs 62% of patients, in Rd-R vs Rd, respectively. In intermediate-fit patients, switching to reduced-dose lenalidomide maintenance without dexamethasone after 9 cycles of Rd was feasible, with similar outcome to standard continuous Rd.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020009507DOI Listing
March 2021

MATRix-RICE therapy and autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with secondary CNS involvement (MARIETTA): an international, single-arm, phase 2 trial.

Lancet Haematol 2021 Feb;8(2):e110-e121

Department of Haematology, University College Hospital, London, UK.

Background: Secondary CNS lymphoma is a rare but potentially lethal event in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. We aimed to assess the activity and safety of an intensive, CNS-directed chemoimmunotherapy consolidated by autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) in patients with secondary CNS lymphoma.

Methods: This international, single-arm, phase 2 trial was done in 24 hospitals in Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Adults (aged 18-70 years) with histologically diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and CNS involvement at the time of primary diagnosis or at relapse and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status of 3 or less were enrolled and received three courses of MATRix (rituximab 375 mg/m, intravenous infusion, day 0; methotrexate 3·5 g/m, the first 0·5 g/m in 15 min followed by 3 g/m in a 3 h intravenous infusion, day 1; cytarabine 2 g/m every 12 h, in 1 h intravenous infusions, days 2 and 3; thiotepa 30 mg/m, 30 min intravenous infusion, day 4) followed by three courses of RICE (rituximab 375 mg/m, day 1; etoposide 100 mg/m per day in 500-1000 mL over a 60 min intravenous infusion, days 1, 2, and 3; ifosfamide 5 g/m in 1000 mL in a 24 h intravenous infusion with mesna support, day 2; carboplatin area under the curve of 5 in 500 mL in a 1 h intravenous infusion, day 2) and carmustine-thiotepa and autologous HSCT (carmustine 400 mg/m in 500 mL glucose 5% solution in a 1-2 h infusion, day -6; thiotepa 5 mg/kg in saline solution in a 2 h infusion every 12 h, days -5 and -4). The primary endpoint was progression-free survival at 1 year. Overall and complete response rates before autologous HSCT, duration of response, overall survival, and safety were the secondary endpoints. Analyses were in the modified intention-to-treat population. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02329080. The trial ended after accrual completion; the database lock was Dec 31, 2019.

Findings: Between March 30, 2015, and Aug 3, 2018, 79 patients were enrolled. 75 patients were assessable. 319 (71%) of the 450 planned courses were delivered. At 1 year from enrolment the primary endpoint was met, 42 patients were progression free (progression-free survival 58%; 95% CI 55-61). 49 patients (65%; 95% CI 54-76) had an objective response after MATRix-RICE, 29 (39%) of whom had a complete response. 37 patients who responded had autologous HSCT. At the end of the programme, 46 patients (61%; 95% CI 51-71) had an objective response, with a median duration of objective response of 26 months (IQR 16-37). At a median follow-up of 29 months (IQR 20-40), 35 patients were progression-free and 33 were alive, with a 2-year overall survival of 46% (95% CI 39-53). Grade 3-4 toxicity was most commonly haematological: neutropenia in 46 (61%) of 75 patients, thrombocytopenia in 45 (60%), and anaemia in 26 (35%). 79 serious adverse events were recorded in 42 (56%) patients; four (5%) of those 79 were lethal due to sepsis caused by Gram-negative bacteria (treatment-related mortality 5%; 95% CI 0·07-9·93).

Interpretation: MATRix-RICE plus autologous HSCT was active in this population of patients with very poor prognosis, and had an acceptable toxicity profile.

Funding: Stand Up To Cancer Campaign for Cancer Research UK, the Swiss Cancer Research foundation, and the Swiss Cancer League.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(20)30366-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844712PMC
February 2021

Bortezomib, thalidomide, and dexamethasone followed by double autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (GIMEMA-MMY-3006): long-term follow-up analysis of a randomised phase 3, open-label study.

Lancet Haematol 2020 Dec;7(12):e861-e873

Istituto di Ematologia "Seràgnoli", Dipartimento di Medicina Specialistica, Diagnostica e Sperimentale, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: The phase 3 GIMEMA-MMY-3006 trial, which compared bortezomib, thalidomide, and dexamethasone (VTD) combination therapy with thalidomide and dexamethasone (TD) as induction therapy before and consolidation therapy after double autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, showed the superiority of the triplet regimen over the doublet in terms of increased complete response rate and improved progression-free survival. We report the results from the final analysis of the study.

Methods: In this randomised, open-label, phase 3 study, patients aged 18-65 years with previously untreated symptomatic multiple myeloma and a Karnofsky Performance Status of 60% or higher were enrolled at 73 centres in Italy. Patients were randomised (1:1) by a web-based system to receive three 21-day cycles of thalidomide (100 mg daily orally for the first 14 days and 200 mg daily thereafter) plus dexamethasone (total 320 mg per cycle; 40 mg on days 1-2, 4-5, 8-9, and 11-12 in the VTD regimen, and 40 mg on days 1-4 and 9-12 in the TD regimen), either alone (TD group) or with bortezomib (1·3 mg/m intravenously on days 1, 4, 8, and 11; VTD group). After double autologous HSCT, patients received two 35-day cycles of either the VTD or TD regimen, according to random assignment, as consolidation therapy. The primary outcome was the rate of complete response and near complete response after induction (already reported). In this updated analysis we assessed long-term progression-free survival and overall survival (secondary endpoints of the study) with an extended 10-year median follow-up, and analysed the variables influencing survival. Analysis was by intention to treat. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01134484.

Findings: Between May 10, 2006, and April 30, 2008, 480 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive VTD (241 patients) or TD (239 patients). Six patients withdrew consent before start of treatment. 236 (99 [42%] women) in the VTD group and 238 (102 [43%] women) in the TD group were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. The data cutoff date for this analysis was May 31, 2018. Median follow-up for surviving patients was 124·1 months (IQR 117·2-131·7). The 10-year progression-free survival estimate for patients in the VTD group was 34% (95% CI 28-41) compared with 17% (13-23) for the TD group (hazard ratio [HR] 0·62 [95% CI 0·50-0·77]; p<0·0001). 60% (95% CI 54-67) of patients in the VTD group were alive at 10 years versus 46% (40-54) of patients in the TD group (HR 0·68 [95% CI 0·51-0·90]; p=0·0068). VTD was an independent predictor of improved progression-free survival (HR 0·60 [95% CI 0·48-0·76]; p<0·0001) and overall survival (HR 0·68 [0·50-0·91]; p=0·010). The incidence of second primary malignancies per 100 person-years was 0·87 (95% CI 0·49-1·44) in the VTD group compared with 1·41 (0·88-2·13) in the TD group.

Interpretation: Incorporation of VTD into double autologous HSCT resulted in clinically meaningful improvements in long-term progression-free survival and overall survival, confirming that a regimen including bortezomib and an immunomodulatory drug is the gold standard treatment for patients with newly diagnosed myeloma who are fit for high-dose chemotherapy.

Funding: Seràgnoli Institute of Haematology, University of Bologna, and BolognAIL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(20)30323-9DOI Listing
December 2020

Lenalidomide-based induction and maintenance in elderly newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients: updated results of the EMN01 randomized trial.

Haematologica 2020 07 3;105(7):1937-1947. Epub 2019 Oct 3.

Myeloma Unit, Division of Hematology, University of Torino, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, Torino, Italy.

n the EMN01 trial, the addition of an alkylator (melphalan or cyclophosphamide) to lenalidomide-steroid induction therapy was prospectively evaluated in transplant-ineligible patients with multiple myeloma. After induction, patients were randomly assigned to maintenance treatment with lenalidomide alone or with prednisone continuously. The analysis presented here (median follow-up of 71 months) is focused on maintenance treatment and on subgroup analyses defined according to the International Myeloma Working Group Frailty Score. Of the 654 evaluable patients, 217 were in the lenalidomide-dexamethasone arm, 217 in the melphalan-prednisone-lenalidomide arm and 220 in the cyclophosphamide-prednisone-lenalidomide arm. With regards to the Frailty Score, 284 (43%) patients were fit, 205 (31%) were intermediate-fit and 165 (25%) were frail. After induction, 402 patients were eligible for maintenance therapy (lenalidomide arm, n=204; lenalidomide-prednisone arm, n=198). After a median duration of maintenance of 22.0 months, progression-free survival from the start of maintenance was 22.2 months with lenalidomide-prednisone 18.6 months with lenalidomide (hazard ratio 0.85, =0.14), with no differences across frailty subgroups. The most frequent grade ≥3 toxicity was neutropenia (10% of lenalidomide-prednisone and 21% of lenalidomide patients; =0.001). Grade ≥3 non-hematologic adverse events were rare (<15%). In fit patients, melphalan-prednisone-lenalidomide significantly prolonged progression-free survival compared to cyclophosphamide-prednisone-lenalidomide (hazard ratio 0.72, =0.05) and lenalidomide-dexamethasone (hazard ratio 0.72, =0.04). Likewise, a trend towards a better overall survival was noted for patients treated with melphalan-prednisone-lenalidomide or cyclophosphamide-prednisone-lenalidomide, as compared to lenalidomide-dexamethasone. No differences were observed in intermediate-fit and frail patients. This analysis showed positive outcomes of maintenance with lenalidomide-based regimens, with a good safety profile. For the first time, we showed that fit patients benefit from a full-dose triplet regimen, while intermediate-fit and frail patients benefit from gentler regimens. ClinicalTrials.gov registration number: NCT01093196.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2019.226407DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327625PMC
July 2020

Novel agent-based salvage autologous stem cell transplantation for relapsed multiple myeloma.

Ann Hematol 2017 Dec 24;96(12):2071-2078. Epub 2017 Oct 24.

"Seràgnoli" Institute of Hematology, Sant'Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.

High-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) is a standard frontline therapy for multiple myeloma (MM). Therapeutic options for patients with relapsed MM after ASCT include novel agents in different combos, salvage ASCT (sASCT), and allogeneic transplant, with no unique standard of care. We retrospectively analyzed 66 MM patients who relapsed after up-front single or double ASCT(s) and received novel agent-based sASCT at five Italian centers. Median event-free survival from up-front ASCT(s) to first relapse (EFS1) was 44 months. Seventy-three percent of patients received sASCT at first disease progression. Re-induction regimens were bortezomib based in 87% of patients. Response to re-induction therapy included complete response (CR) 18%, ≥ very good partial response (VGPR) 48%, and overall response rate (ORR) 83%. Response to sASCT included CR 44%, ≥ VGPR 77%, and ORR 94%. With a median follow-up of 24 months after sASCT, 39 patients experienced disease progression. Median EFS from sASCT (EFS2) was 17 months. Median overall survival from ASCT (OS1) and sASCT (OS2) was 166 and 43 months, respectively. EFS2 and OS2 were significantly shorter in patients with EFS1 ≤ 24 months, in patients who did not receive sASCT at first disease progression and in patients with extramedullary disease (EMD). In multivariate analysis, EFS1 ≤ 24 months was associated with shorter EFS2 and OS2, EMD was associated with shorter EFS2, and < CR after sASCT was associated with shorter OS2. Novel agent-based sASCT is a safe and effective procedure for relapsed MM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-017-3140-5DOI Listing
December 2017

Lenalidomide in combination with dexamethasone in elderly patients with advanced, relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and renal failure.

Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 2013 3;5(1):e2013037. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Hematology Unit, Infermi Hospital, Rimini Italy.

Salvage therapy of elderly patients with advanced, relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma (MM) is often limited by poor marrow reserve and multi-organ impairment. In particular, renal failure occurs in up to 50% of such patients, and this can potentially limit the therapeutic options. Both thalidomide and bortezomib have proven effective in these patients, with an acceptable toxicity, while, in clinical practice, lenalidomide is generally not considered a first-choice drug for MM patients with renal failure as early reports showed an increased hematological toxicity unless appropriate dose reduction is applied. Aim of this study was a retrospective evaluation of the efficacy of the combination Lenalidomide + Dexamethasone in a population of elderly MM patients treated in 5 Italian Centers. The study included 20 consecutive MM patients (9 M, 11 F, median age 76.5 years) with relapsed (N= 6) or refractory (N=13) MM and moderate to severe renal failure, defined as creatinine clearance (Cr Cl) < 50ml/min. Four patients were undergoing hemodyalisis at study entry. 85 % of the patients had been previously treated with bortezomib-containing regimens. Lenalidomide dose was adjusted according to renal function and patients clinical conditions Median treatment duration was 16 months (1-22), therapy was interrupted after 1 21-day cycle in 2 patients. Grade III-IV neutropenia was observed in 7 patients (35%); grade III-IV non hematological toxicity was recorded in 3 cases (28%). A > partial response was observed in 8 patients (40%), 1 of whom obtained a VGPR; 4 additional patients achieved a minor response. Median response duration was 16 months (range 2-19+ months). A complete and partial renal response was obtained in 4 and 3 patients, respectively, all of them were responsive to Lenalidomide-dexamethasone According to our data, LEN+DEX has shown efficacy and acceptable toxicity in this population of elderly patients with advanced MM and renal failure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4084/MJHID.2013.037DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3684317PMC
June 2013

Aspirin, warfarin, or enoxaparin thromboprophylaxis in patients with multiple myeloma treated with thalidomide: a phase III, open-label, randomized trial.

J Clin Oncol 2011 Mar 31;29(8):986-93. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

University of Torino, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria San Giovanni Battista, Torino, Italy.

Purpose: In patients with myeloma, thalidomide significantly improves outcomes but increases the risk of thromboembolic events. In this randomized, open-label, multicenter trial, we compared aspirin (ASA) or fixed low-dose warfarin (WAR) versus low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for preventing thromboembolism in patients with myeloma treated with thalidomide-based regimens.

Patients And Methods: A total of 667 patients with previously untreated myeloma who received thalidomide-containing regimens and had no clinical indication or contraindication for a specific antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapy were randomly assigned to receive ASA (100 mg/d), WAR (1.25 mg/d), or LMWH (enoxaparin 40 mg/d). A composite primary end point included serious thromboembolic events, acute cardiovascular events, or sudden deaths during the first 6 months of treatment.

Results: Of 659 analyzed patients, 43 (6.5%) had serious thromboembolic events, acute cardiovascular events, or sudden death during the first 6 months (6.4% in the ASA group, 8.2% in the WAR group, and 5.0% in the LMWH group). Compared with LMWH, the absolute differences were +1.3% (95% CI, -3.0% to 5.7%; P = .544) in the ASA group and +3.2% (95% CI, -1.5% to 7.8%; P = .183) in the WAR group. The risk of thromboembolism was 1.38 times higher in patients treated with thalidomide without bortezomib. Three major (0.5%) and 10 minor (1.5%) bleeding episodes were recorded.

Conclusion: In patients with myeloma treated with thalidomide-based regimens, ASA and WAR showed similar efficacy in reducing serious thromboembolic events, acute cardiovascular events, and sudden deaths compared with LMWH, except in elderly patients where WAR showed less efficacy than LMWH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2010.31.6844DOI Listing
March 2011

Bortezomib with thalidomide plus dexamethasone compared with thalidomide plus dexamethasone as induction therapy before, and consolidation therapy after, double autologous stem-cell transplantation in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma: a randomised phase 3 study.

Lancet 2010 Dec 9;376(9758):2075-85. Epub 2010 Dec 9.

Istituto di Ematologia Seràgnoli, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Background: Thalidomide plus dexamethasone (TD) is a standard induction therapy for myeloma. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of addition of bortezomib to TD (VTD) versus TD alone as induction therapy before, and consolidation therapy after, double autologous stem-cell transplantation in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.

Methods: Patients (aged 18-65 years) with previously untreated symptomatic myeloma were enrolled from 73 sites in Italy between May, 2006, and April, 2008, and data collection continued until June 30, 2010. Patients were randomly allocated (1:1 ratio) by a web-based system to receive three 21-day cycles of thalidomide (100 mg daily for the first 14 days and 200 mg daily thereafter) plus dexamethasone (40 mg daily on 8 of the first 12 days, but not consecutively; total of 320 mg per cycle), either alone or with bortezomib (1·3 mg/m(2) on days 1, 4, 8, and 11). The randomisation sequence was computer generated by the study coordinating team and was stratified by disease stage. After double autologous stem-cell transplantation, patients received two 35-day cycles of their assigned drug regimen, VTD or TD, as consolidation therapy. The primary endpoint was the rate of complete or near complete response to induction therapy. Analysis was by intention to treat. Patients and treating physicians were not masked to treatment allocation. This study is still underway but is not recruiting participants, and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01134484, and with EudraCT, number 2005-003723-39.

Findings: 480 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive VTD (n=241 patients) or TD (n=239). Six patients withdrew consent before start of treatment, and 236 on VTD and 238 on TD were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. After induction therapy, complete or near complete response was achieved in 73 patients (31%, 95% CI 25·0-36·8) receiving VTD, and 27 (11%, 7·3-15·4) on TD (p<0·0001). Grade 3 or 4 adverse events were recorded in a significantly higher number of patients on VTD (n=132, 56%) than in those on TD (n=79, 33%; p<0·0001), with a higher occurrence of peripheral neuropathy in patients on VTD (n=23, 10%) than in those on TD (n=5, 2%; p=0·0004). Resolution or improvement of severe peripheral neuropathy was recorded in 18 of 23 patients on VTD, and in three of five patients on TD.

Interpretation: VTD induction therapy before double autologous stem-cell transplantation significantly improves rate of complete or near complete response, and represents a new standard of care for patients with multiple myeloma who are eligible for transplant.

Funding: Seràgnoli Institute of Haematology at the University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61424-9DOI Listing
December 2010

Phase I/II clinical trial of sequential subcutaneous and intravenous delivery of dendritic cell vaccination for refractory multiple myeloma using patient-specific tumour idiotype protein or idiotype (VDJ)-derived class I-restricted peptides.

Br J Haematol 2007 Nov;139(3):415-24

Institute of Haematology and Medical Oncology 'L. & A. Seràgnoli', University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Fifteen multiple myeloma (MM) patients who had failed maintenance therapy after tandem autologous stem cell transplantation underwent anti-idiotype (Id) vaccination with dendritic cells (DCs). CD14(+)-derived DCs were loaded with the autologous Id as whole protein (=6) or Id-derived class I-restricted peptides (=9) and keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Vaccination consisted of three subcutaneous (sc) and two intravenous injections of increasing DC doses at 2 weeks interval. DC therapy was well tolerated. Most patients developed both humoral and T-cell responses to KLH, suggesting immunocompetence. Eight of 15 patients developed an Id-specific T-cell proliferative response, 8/15 increased interferon-gamma-secreting T cells and 4/15 showed an Id-positive delayed-type hypersensitivity test. Anti-Id cytotoxic T-lymphocyte precursors increased after DC vaccination in 2/2 evaluable patients. A more robust T-cell response was observed after sc DC injections and increased Id-specific T-cell proliferation was found up to 1 year after vaccination. VDJ-derived peptides were as effective as the whole protein in stimulating T-cell responses. Clinically, 7/15 patients have stable disease after a median follow-up of 26 months, one patient achieved durable partial remission after 40 months, and seven patients progressed. In conclusion, sc injections of cryopreserved Id-pulsed DCs were safe and, in contrast with intravenous administrations, induced anti-MM T-cell responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2141.2007.06832.xDOI Listing
November 2007

Prospective, randomized study of single compared with double autologous stem-cell transplantation for multiple myeloma: Bologna 96 clinical study.

J Clin Oncol 2007 Jun 7;25(17):2434-41. Epub 2007 May 7.

Istituto di Ematologia ed Oncologia Medica [Seràgnoli], Università di Bologna, Bologn, Italy.

Purpose: We performed a prospective, randomized study of single (arm A) versus double (arm B) autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) for younger patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM).

Patients And Methods: A total of 321 patients were enrolled onto the study and were randomly assigned to receive either a single course of high-dose melphalan at 200 mg/m2 (arm A) or melphalan at 200 mg/m2 followed, after 3 to 6 months, by melphalan at 120 mg/m2 and busulfan at 12 mg/kilogram (arm B).

Results: As compared with assignment to the single-transplantation group (n = 163 patients), random assignment to receive double ASCT (n = 158 patients) significantly increased the probability to attain at least a near complete response (nCR; 33% v 47%, respectively; P = .008), prolonged relapse-free survival (RFS) duration of 18 months (median, 24 v 42 months, respectively; P < .001), and significantly extended event-free survival (EFS; median, 23 v 35 months, respectively; P = .001). Administration of a second transplantation and of novel agents for treating sequential relapses in up to 50% of patients randomly assigned to receive a single ASCT likely contributed to prolong the survival duration of the whole group, whose 7-year rate (46%) was similar to that of the double-transplantation group (43%; P = .90). Transplantation-related mortality was 3% in arm A and 4% in arm B (P = .70).

Conclusion: In comparison with a single ASCT as up-front therapy for newly diagnosed MM, double ASCT effected superior CR or nCR rate, RFS, and EFS, but failed to significantly prolong overall survival. Benefits offered by double ASCT were particularly evident among patients who failed at least nCR after one autotransplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2006.10.2509DOI Listing
June 2007

First-line therapy with thalidomide, dexamethasone and zoledronic acid decreases bone resorption markers in patients with multiple myeloma.

Eur J Haematol 2006 May 15;76(5):399-404. Epub 2006 Feb 15.

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology L. e A. Seràgnoli Bologna University, Bologna, Italy.

Background: Bone involvement is frequently observed in multiple myeloma (MM) patients both at diagnosis and during the course of the disease. The evaluation of biochemical markers of bone turnover could allow a dynamic evaluation of the effects of a given therapy on bone metabolism.

Methods: In the present study, markers of bone resorption [urinary free pyridinoline (PYD), deoxypyridinoline (DPYD), N-terminal telopeptide of collagen I (NTX) and C-terminal telopeptide (serum crosslaps)] and of bone formation [bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP) and osteocalcin] were evaluated at diagnosis and after induction therapy in 40 patients (23M, 17F, median age = 53.5 yr) enrolled in the 'Bologna 2002' clinical trial. By study design, all patients received 4 months of combined thalidomide (100 mg/d for 2 wk then 200 mg/d), dexamethasone (40 mg/d on days 1-4, 9-12, 17-20/28 on odd cycles and on days 1-4 on even cycles) and zoledronic acid (4 mg/28 d).

Results: At diagnosis, although bone resorption markers were increased in more than 40% of the patients, only NTX (P = 0.029) and crosslaps (P = 0.000) were significantly related to the extent of skeletal lesions, as assessed by X-ray. After 4 months of therapy, a significant decrease in mean (+/-SE) urinary NTX (52.7 +/-6.9 nmol/mmol creatinine +/-6.9 vs. 14 +/- 1.42 nmol/mmol creatinine, P = 0.000) and serum crosslaps (6242.4 +/-945 pmol/L vs. 1414.9 +/- 173.8 pmol/L, P = 0.000) was observed in patients obtaining > or =partial response, at variance to what has been detected in patients showing
Conclusions: Among all bone resorption markers, urinary NTX and serum crosslaps seem to be strictly related to the extent of bone involvement in MM. Combined thalidomide + dexamethasone and zoledronic acid seem to be highly effective in reducing bone resorption in sensitive patients, although the relative contribution of each drug cannot yet be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0902-4441.2005.t01-1-EJH2520.xDOI Listing
May 2006

Superiority of thalidomide and dexamethasone over vincristine-doxorubicindexamethasone (VAD) as primary therapy in preparation for autologous transplantation for multiple myeloma.

Blood 2005 Jul 10;106(1):35-9. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology Seràgnoli, via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, Italy.

The aim of the present study was to compare thalidomide-dexamethasone (Thal-Dex) and vincristine-doxorubicin-dexamethasone (VAD) as primary therapy in preparation for autologous peripheral blood stem-cell (PBSC) transplantation for multiple myeloma (MM). For this purpose, we performed a retrospective matched case-control analysis of 200 patients who entered 2 consecutive studies from 1996 to 2004 and received Thal-Dex (n = 100) or VAD (n = 100) administered for 4 months before collection of PBSCs and autologous transplantation. Matching criteria included age, clinical stage, and serum beta2-microglobulin levels. In comparison with VAD, Thal-Dex resulted in a significantly higher response rate (52% versus 76%, respectively; P < .001) and effected more profound reduction in myeloma cell mass of both immunoglobulin G (IgG; P = .02) and IgA (P = .03) type. More frequent toxicities included nonfatal deep vein thrombosis with Thal-Dex (15%) and granulocytopenia with VAD (12%). In each of the 2 treatment groups, 91% of patients proceeded to PBSC mobilization. The median number of collected CD34+ cells was 7.85 x 10(6)/kg in the Thal-Dex group and 10.5 x 10(6)/kg in the control group. Thal-Dex may be considered an effective and relatively well-tolerated oral alternative to the more complex VAD regimen as front-line therapy for MM patients who are candidates for subsequent autologous transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2005-02-0522DOI Listing
July 2005

Neurological toxicity of long-term (>1 yr) thalidomide therapy in patients with multiple myeloma.

Eur J Haematol 2005 Mar;74(3):212-6

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Seragnoli University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Objective: Thalidomide is remarkably active in advanced relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma (MM), so that its use has been recently proposed either in newly diagnosed patients or as maintenance treatment after conventional or high-dose therapy. This latter therapeutic approach has risen the concern of side-effects of long-term therapy with this drug.

Methods: We analysed long-term toxicity of 40 patients (27 M, 13 F, median age = 61.5 yr) who received salvage therapy with thalidomide +/- dexamethasone for longer than 12 months (median 15, range 12-44) at our centre. All the patients had achieved at least a stable disease upon treatment with thalidomide alone (200-400 mg/d, n = 20) or thalidomide (200 mg/d) and dexamethasone (40 mg/d for 4 d every 4 wk) (n = 20).

Results And Conclusions: Neurotoxicity was the most troublesome and frequent toxic effect that was observed after long-term treatment, the incidence averaging 75%. Among these 30 patients symptoms included paraesthesias, tremor and dizziness. Neurotoxicity was grade 1 in six patients (15%); grade 2 in 13 patients (32.5%), thus determining thalidomide dose reduction to 100 mg/d; and grade 3 in 11 patients (27.5%) who had subsequently to interrupt therapy despite their response. Electromyographic study, performed in patients with grade >/=2 neurotoxicity, revealed a symmetrical, mainly sensory peripheral neuropathy, with minor motor involvement. The severity of neurotoxicity was not related to cumulative or daily thalidomide dose, but only to the duration of the disease prior to thalidomide treatment, although no patients presented neurological symptoms at study entry. These results suggest that long-term thalidomide therapy in MM may be hampered by the remarkable neurotoxicity of the drug, and that a neurological evaluation should be mandatory prior to thalidomide treatment, in order to identify patients at risk of developing a peripheral neuropathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0609.2004.00382.xDOI Listing
March 2005

Generation of dendritic cells from positively selected CD14+ monocytes for anti-tumor immunotherapy.

Leuk Lymphoma 2004 Jul;45(7):1419-28

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology L & A Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Peripheral blood CD14+ monocytes from multiple myeloma (MM) patients can be induced to differentiate into fully functional, mature, CD83+ dendritic cells (DCs) which are highly efficient in priming autologous T lymphocytes in response to the patient-specific tumor idiotype (Id). We have recently scaled up our manufacturing protocol for application in a phase I-II clinical trial of anti-Id vaccination with DCs in MM patients. Elegible patients received a series of by-monthly immunizations consisting of three subcutaneous and two intravenous injections of Id-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)-pulsed DCs (5 x -, 10 x -, 50 x 10(6) cells and 10 x -, 50 x 10(6) cells, respectively). To generate DCs, monocytes were labeled with clinical grade anti-CD14 conjugates and positively selected by immunomagnetic separation. Cells were then cultured, according to Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, in FCS-free medium in cell culture bags, and differentiated to DCs with GM-CSF plus IL-4 followed by TNF-alpha or, more recently, by a cocktail of IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha and prostaglandin-E2. Before maturation, Mo-DCs were pulsed with the autologous Id as whole protein or Id (VDJ)-derived HLA class I restricted peptides. Ten MM patients, who had been treated with two courses of high-dose chemotherapy with peripheral blood stem cell support, entered into the clinical study. CD14+ monocytes were enriched from 16.1+/-5.7% to 95.5+/-3.2% (recovery 67.9+/-15%, viability > 97%). After cell culture, phenotypic analysis showed that 89.6+/-6.6% of the cells were mature DCs. We obtained 2.89+/-1 x 10(8) DCs/leukapheresis which represented 24.5+/-9% of the initial number of CD14+ cells. Notably, the cytokine cocktail induced a significantly higher percentage and yield (31+/-10.9 of initial CD14+ cells) of DCs than TNF-alpha alone, secretion of larger amounts of IL-12, potent stimulatory activity on allogeneic and autologous T cells. Storage in liquid nitrogen did not modify the phenotype or functional characteristics of pre-loaded DCs. The recovery of thawed, viable DCs, was 78+/-10%. Thus, positive selection of CD14+ monocytes allows the generation of a uniform population of mature pre-loaded DCs which can be cryopreserved with no effects on phenotype and function and are suitable for clinical trials. Based on these results, a DCs-based phase II trial of anti-Id vaccination with VDJ-derived HLA class I-restricted peptides and KLH is underway for lymphoma patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428190310001653682DOI Listing
July 2004

First-line therapy with thalidomide and dexamethasone in preparation for autologous stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma.

Haematologica 2004 Jul;89(7):826-31

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology Seràgnoli, via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, Italy.

Background And Objectives: The marked synergy of thalidomide and dexamethasone in advanced and refractory multiple myeloma (MM) provided the basis for a phase 2 clinical study aimed at investigating the efficacy and toxicity of this combination as first-line therapy for patients less than 65 years old with newly diagnosed disease.

Design And Methods: Both thalidomide and dexamethasone were administered for 4 months in an attempt to reduce tumor cell mass before collection of peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) and subsequent double autologous transplantation. Thalidomide was given at the fixed dose of 200 mg/day; dexamethasone was administered at the dose of 40 mg/day on days 1-4, 9-12 and 17- 20 in odd cycles and 40 mg/day on days 1-4 in even cycles, repeated monthly.

Results: Seventy-one patients with symptomatic MM were evaluated for response and toxicity. On an intent-to-treat basis, the overall response (>or= partial remission) rate was 66%, including 17% of patients who attained a complete remission or a very good partial remission. In addition to common toxicity of thalidomide, deep-vein thrombosis was a troublesome adverse event (16%). Nine patients (13%) required thalidomide discontinuation because of toxicity, including 3 patients who died during the study treatment. Fifty-nine patients proceeded to PBSC mobilization and yielded a median number of 7.1x10(6) CD 34(+ ) cells/kg.

Interpretation And Conclusions: The combination of thalidomide and dexamethasone is an effective and relatively well tolerated induction regimen for previously untreated patients with MM. This combination may provide an oral alternative to vincristine-doxorubicin-dexamethasone in preparation for autologous stem cell transplantation.
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July 2004

Thalidomide alone or in combination with dexamethasone in patients with advanced, relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and renal failure.

Eur J Haematol 2004 Aug;73(2):98-103

Institute of Haematology and Medical Oncology L. & A. Seràgnoli, Bologna University, Bologna, Italy.

Salvage therapy of patients with advanced, relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma (MM) is often limited by poor marrow reserve and multi-organ impairment. In particular, renal failure occurs in up to 50% of such patients, and this further limits the use of conventional chemotherapy. Thalidomide, both alone and in combination with dexamethasone, has been demonstrated to be useful in patients with advanced MM, as responses could be achieved in 30-60% of the cases. From May 2000 to November 2003, 20 consecutive MM patients (15 males, five females, median age 66.5 yr) with stage III relapsed/refractory MM and renal failure, defined as serum creatinine >130 mmol/L, gave their informed consent to be enrolled in a clinical trial aimed at evaluating the efficacy and the toxic effects of thalidomide. Three patients were undergoing chronic haemodialysis during the time of entry in the study. Eight patients have been treated with thalidomide as a single agent, at a starting dose of 100 mg/d, that was to be increased to 400 mg/d in case of good tolerance. Twelve patients have been treated with thalidomide at the maximum dose of 200 mg/d plus dexamethasone 40 mg/d for four consecutive days every 4 wk. A >50% decrease in serum or urine M component was observed in nine patients (45%), seven of whom have been treated with thalidomide + dexamethasone and three with thalidomide alone. Six additional patients achieved a minor response (>25% paraprotein decrease); the total response rate was thus 75%. Median response duration was 7 months (range 2-24 months). Four patients were refractory to treatment. Recovery of a normal renal function was observed in 12 of 15 responsive patients, two additional patients, in chronic haemodialysis, showed a reduction of serum creatinine. Toxicity profile of thalidomide with or without dexamethasone was comparable with that observed in patients with a normal renal function. In conclusion, our data show that thalidomide can be safely administered in patients with advanced MM and renal failure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0609.2004.00272.xDOI Listing
August 2004

Cyclin D1 overexpression is a favorable prognostic variable for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients treated with high-dose chemotherapy and single or double autologous transplantation.

Blood 2003 Sep 1;102(5):1588-94. Epub 2003 May 1.

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9-40138 Bologna, Italy.

We used a sensitive real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay to quantify cyclin D1 mRNA levels in bone marrow samples collected at diagnosis from 74 newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) patients who were randomized to undergo either single or double autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation as part of first-line therapy for their malignancy. In 46 cases, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis and/or conventional cytogenetics were performed to detect chromosome 11 abnormalities. Patients with the t(11;14) or trisomy 11 significantly overexpressed cyclin D1 (P <.0001) in comparison with patients without 11q abnormalities, who had cyclin D1 mRNA levels similar to healthy donors. Overall, 32 (43%) of 74 patients showed cyclin D1 overexpression. No difference was found between cyclin D1-positive (group A) and cyclin D1-negative (group B) patients with respect to presenting clinical and laboratory characteristics, including chromosome 13 abnormalities, as well as to response to therapy and overall survival, both of which were calculated on an intent-to-treat basis. Patients who overexpressed cyclin D1 had significantly longer duration of remission in comparison with patients who did not (41 vs 26 months, respectively; P =.02). As a result, median event-free survival (EFS) was longer in group A than in group B (33 vs 24 months, respectively; P =.055). We concluded that cyclin D1 overexpression is closely associated with 11q abnormalities and identifies a subset of MM patients who are more likely to have prolonged duration of remission and EFS following autologous transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2002-12-3789DOI Listing
September 2003

Autologous transplantation of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor-primed bone marrow is effective in supporting myeloablative chemotherapy in patients with hematologic malignancies and poor peripheral blood stem cell mobilization.

Blood 2003 Sep 24;102(5):1595-600. Epub 2003 Apr 24.

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology "Seràgnoli" Via Massarenti, 9, 40100 Bologna, Italy.

We assessed the hematopoietic recovery and transplantation-related mortality (TRM) of patients who had failed peripheral blood stem cell mobilization and subsequently received high-dose chemotherapy supported by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-primed bone marrow (BM). Studied were 86 heavily pretreated consecutive patients with acute leukemia (n = 21), refractory/relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 41) and Hodgkin disease (n = 17), and multiple myeloma (n = 7). There were 78 patients who showed insufficient mobilization of CD34+ cells (< 10 cells/microL), whereas 8 patients collected less than 1 x 106 CD34+ cells/kg. BM was primed in vivo for 3 days with 15 to 16 microg/kg of subcutaneous G-CSF. Median numbers of nucleated cells, colony-forming unit cells (CFU-Cs), and CD34+ cells per kilogram harvested were 3.5 x 10(8), 3.72 x 10(4), and 0.82 x 10(6), respectively. Following myeloablative chemotherapy, median times to achieve a granulocyte count higher than 0.5 x 10(9)/L and an unsupported platelet count higher than 20 and 50 x 10(9)/L were 13 (range, 8-24), 15 (range, 12-75), and 22 (range, 12-180) days, respectively, for lymphoma/myeloma patients and 23 (range, 13-53), 52 (range, 40-120), and 90 (range, 46-207) days, respectively, for leukemia patients. Median times to hospital discharge after transplantation were 17 (range, 12-40) and 27 (range, 14-39) days for lymphoma/myeloma and acute leukemia patients, respectively. TRM was 4.6%, whereas 15 patients died of disease. G-CSF-primed BM induces effective multilineage hematopoietic recovery after high-dose chemotherapy and can be safely used in patients with poor stem cell mobilization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2003-02-0440DOI Listing
September 2003

Generation of dendritic cells from CD14+ monocytes positively selected by immunomagnetic adsorption for multiple myeloma patients enrolled in a clinical trial of anti-idiotype vaccination.

Br J Haematol 2003 Apr;121(2):240-50

Institute of Haematology and Medical Oncology, L. & A. Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Circulating monocytes from multiple myeloma patients enrolled in a clinical study of anti-idiotype vaccination were labelled with clinical-grade anti-CD14 microbeads and positively selected with the CliniMACS instrument. Cells were then grown, according to good manufacturing practice guidelines, in fetal-calf-serum-free medium in cell culture bags and differentiated to dendritic cells (DC) with granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor plus interleukin 4 (IL-4), followed by either tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) or a cocktail of IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha and prostaglandin-E2. The CD14+ cell yield was increased from 17.6 +/- 6.5% to 93.8 +/- 6.3% (recovery 64.4 +/- 15.4%, viability > 97%). After cell culture, phenotypic analysis showed that 86.7 +/- 6.8% of the cells were DC: 2.27 +/- 0.9 x 108 DC/leukapheresis were obtained, which represented 20.7 +/- 4.6% of the initial number of CD14+ cells. Notably, the cytokine cocktail induced a significantly higher percentage and yield (28.6 +/- 3% of initial CD14+ cells) of DC than TNF-alpha alone, with secretion of larger amounts of IL-12, potent stimulatory activity on allogeneic T cells and efficient presentation of tumour idiotype to autologous T cells. Storage in liquid nitrogen did not modify the phenotype or functional characteristics of preloaded DC. The recovery of thawed, viable DC was 78 +/- 10%. Finally, interferon-alpha-2b was at least as efficient as IL-4 in inducing the differentiation of mature, functional DC from monocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2141.2003.04270.xDOI Listing
April 2003

Novel mutation and RNA splice variant of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 in multiple myeloma patients at diagnosis.

Haematologica 2002 Oct;87(10):1036-40

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology Seràgnoli , University of Bologna, Italy.

Background And Objectives: The karyotypically silent t(4;14)(p16.3;q32) translocation can be found in approximately 15-20% of multiple myeloma (MM) patients and results in the ectopic expression of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) from der4. Point mutations in specific FGFR3 domains can be found in the translocated allele, and have been recently proven to be oncogenic. These mutations produce a constitutively activated receptor, which shows dimerization and autophosphorylation even in the absence of ligand. We investigated the presence of FGFR3 expression and activating mutations in a series of newly diagnosed MM patients.

Design And Methods: We validated a new sensitive and specific Taqman real-time reverse-transcription polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) set up to evaluate FGFR3 mRNA expression, and applied it to 78 newly diagnosed patients; in positive cases, FGFR3 mRNA transcripts were sequenced. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was done in 32 cases with sufficient material.

Results: Real-time RT-PCR revealed FGFR3 mRNA expression in 10/78 (13%) patients. In two cases, sequence analysis revealed novel FGFR3 mutations. In a patient with FISH evidence of the t(4;14), a CGC to TGC transition was detected in codon 248. In a patient without the t(4;14), three additional, abnormal-sized transcripts were detected, corresponding to truncated transcripts originating from cryptic splice donor sites located within exon 7.

Interpretation And Conclusions: We describe a novel FGFR3 mutation (with a demonstrated deregulatory mechanism), as well as a case of alternative splicing in the absence of t(4;14), detected in newly diagnosed MM patients overexpressing FGFR3. This implies that FGFR3 mutation can occur at an early stage of myelomagenesis and even in the absence of the t(4;14).
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October 2002

Melphalan-prednisone versus alternating combination VAD/MP or VND/MP as primary therapy for multiple myeloma: final analysis of a randomized clinical study.

Haematologica 2002 Sep;87(9):934-42

Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology Seràgnoli, via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.

Background And Objectives: In the absence of a cure for multiple myeloma (MM) with standard-dose therapy, any strategy that can be expected to increase tumor reduction and to extend survival duration is likely to be of clinical relevance. The primary end-point of the present study was to investigate whether the alternating combination of vincristine-doxorubicin-dexamethasone (VAD) and melphalan-prednisone (MP) or vincristine-mitoxantrone-dexamethasone (VND) and MP could improve the clinical outcome of MM patients thus treated in comparison with those receiving MP alone.

Design And Methods: Between November 1990 and April 1994, 527 previously untreated, stage I-III, MM patients from 29 Italian institutions were randomized to receive one of three remission induction chemotherapy regimens consisting of 8-monthly courses of either MP alone or alternating VAD/MP or VND/MP.

Results: On an intent-to-treat basis, the objective response rates were 53% with MP (objective + minor: 67%), 47% with VAD/MP (objective + minor: 61%) and 49% with VND/MP (objective + minor: 61%). Median survival duration was 36.5 months with MP, 29 months with VAD/MP and 32.5 months with VND/MP. The difference among these groups was not statistically significant, even after stratifying patients into high-risk and low-risk subgroups, as assessed by a multifactor proportional hazard analysis. In both younger and elderly patients, severe granulocytopenia and related infections were significantly more frequent with VND/MP compared to the remaining arms of treatment (p < 0.001 and p = 0.009, respectively). Similarly, the frequency of WHO grade III-IV cardiovascular events was significantly higher for patients receiving anthracycline-containing regimens (VND/MP and VAD/MP) than for those treated with MP alone (p = 0.04).

Interpretation And Conclusions: Alternating VAD/MP and VND/MP failed to improve the clinical outcome for MM patients, at the cost of increased toxicity and morbidity. Resistance to standard-dose chemotherapy remains a significant obstacle to the treatment of MM.
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September 2002

Salvage therapy with thalidomide in patients with advanced relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.

Haematologica 2002 Apr;87(4):408-14

Istituto di Ematologia e Oncologia Medica "L. e A. Seràgnoli", Policlinico S. Orsola, via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.

Background And Objectives: Few therapeutic options are presently available for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) who relapse after autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation, or for patients who are refractory to conventional chemotherapy and not eligible for salvage high-dose therapy. Thalidomide, a glutamic acid derivative with anti-angiogenic properties, has been recently proposed as an effective therapy for patients with advanced refractory disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the activity of thalidomide in a large series of MM patients.

Design And Methods: From October 1999 to January 2001, 65 patients (46 males/19 females) from 8 Italian institutions were treated with thalidomide. Twenty-six patients had relapsed after autologous stem cell transplantation, either single (n = 12) or double (n= 12); 38 patients had shown disease progression after >= 2 lines of conventional chemotherapy, 2 patients had relapsed after allotransplant, one single patient had not received previous treatment. Sixty-one (93.8%) patients were in stage III, median b2 microglobulin was 2.9 mg/L, and median bone marrow plasma cell infiltration was 50%. Thalidomide was initially administered at a dose of 100 mg/day; if well tolerated, the dose was to be increased serially by 200mg every other week to a maximum of 800 mg/day.

Results: The median administered dose of thalidomide was 400 mg/day. WHO grade > II toxic effects were constipation (52%), lethargy (34%), skin rash (11%), peripheral neuropathy (14%) and leukopenia (3%). Sixty patients are presently evaluable for response; of these, 17 (28.3%) showed > or = 50% reduction in serum or urinary M protein concentration and 11 (18.3%) showed > or = 25% tumor reduction, for a total response rate averaging 46.6%. After a median of 8 months' follow-up, 15/28 patients are alive and progression-free (at 2 to 16 months), 12 patients have relapsed, and 1 patient died of pulmonary edema while still in partial remission. Among pre-treatment variables that were analyzed for their potential relationship with tumor response, only the concentration of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the conditioned media obtained upon culture of bone marrow plasma cells was statistically significant. Plasma cells from patients who responded favorably to thalidomide secreted a significantly lower amount of VEGF than plasma cells from resistant patients (126.45 165 pg/mL vs 227.11 70 pg/mL, p=0.04).

Interpretation And Conclusions: These data confirm that thalidomide is active in patients with advanced relapsed/refractory MM and represent the basis for ongoing clinical trials aimed at testing the role of this drug as front line therapy for newly diagnosed disease.
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April 2002