Publications by authors named "Elias Jabbour"

616 Publications

Prediction of early (4-week) mortality in acute myeloid leukemia with intensive chemotherapy.

Am J Hematol 2021 Oct 30. Epub 2021 Oct 30.

Department of Leukemia, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

The progress with intensive chemotherapy and supportive care measures has improved survival in patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Given the recent development of effective low intensity therapies, an optimal decision on the therapy intensity may improve survival through the avoidance of early mortality. We reviewed the outcome of 3728 patients with newly diagnosed AML who received intensive chemotherapy between August 1980 and May 2020. Intensive chemotherapy was defined as a cumulative cytarabine dose ≥ 700 mg/m during induction therapy. We divided the whole cohort into a training and validation group at a 3:1 ratio. The population was divided into a training (2790 patients) and a validation cohort (938 patients). The median age was 55 years (range, 15-99). Among them, 442 patients (12%) had core-binding factor AML. Binary logistic regression identified older age, worse performance status, hyperbilirubinemia, elevated creatinine, hyperuricemia, cytogenetic abnormalities other than CBF and -Y, and pneumonia as adverse prognostic factors for an early 4-week mortality. This risk classification for early mortality was verified in the validation cohort of patients. In the validation cohort of more recently treated patients from 2000 to 2017, the 4-week mortality rates with intensive chemotherapy were 2%, 14%, and 50% in the low-, high-, and very high-risk group, respectively. The mortality rates with low intensity therapies were 3%, 9%, and 20%, respectively. The risk classification guides treatment intensity by the assessment of age, frailty, organ dysfunction, cytogenetic abnormality, and infection to avoid early mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.26395DOI Listing
October 2021

Value of measurable residual disease monitoring in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia in the era of frontline 'chemotherapy-free' therapy.

Leuk Lymphoma 2021 Oct 20:1-4. Epub 2021 Oct 20.

Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by the chromosomal translocation (15;17) and the resulting gene used for measurable residual disease (MRD) monitoring. Despite highly effective therapy for APL, MRD monitoring practices are not fully established. We aimed to assess the value of MRD monitoring by RT-qPCR in patients with APL treated with ATRA and arsenic trioxide +/- GO. We reviewed 223 patients with APL treated with this regimen. RT-qPCR for was measured every 3 months, and at 12, 18, and 24 months after therapy. Seven patients relapsed. Time to relapse was 7.9-12.4 months in 6 patients, and one patient relapsed after 79.5 months. These data show that MRD monitoring may be important for the detection of relapse in patients treated with this regimen within one year after completing therapy, however, since late molecular relapse is rare, our data suggest a low value of MRD monitoring beyond that first year.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428194.2021.1992757DOI Listing
October 2021

The cure of leukemia through the optimist's prism.

Cancer 2021 Oct 6. Epub 2021 Oct 6.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Progress is occurring at a dizzying rate across all leukemias. Since the authors' review of the topic in Cancer in 2018, numerous discoveries have been made that have improved the therapy and outcomes of several leukemia subsets. Hairy cell leukemia is potentially curable with a single course of cladribine followed by rituximab (10-year survival, ≥90%). Acute promyelocytic leukemia is curable at a rate of 80% to 90% with a nonchemotherapy regimen of all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide. The cure rate for core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is ≥75% with fludarabine, high-dose cytarabine, and gemtuzumab ozogamicin. Survival for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia is close to that for an age-matched normal population with BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a previously incurable disease, may now be potentially curable with a finite duration of therapy with Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors and venetoclax. The estimated 5-year survival rate for patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) exceeds 70% with intensive chemotherapy and ponatinib, a third-generation BCR-ABL1 TKI, and more recent nonchemotherapy regimens using dasatinib or ponatinib with blinatumomab are producing outstanding results. Survival in both younger and older patients with ALL has improved with the addition of antibodies targeting CD20, CD19 (blinatumomab), and CD22 (inotuzumab) to chemotherapy. Several recent drug discoveries (venetoclax, FLT3 and IDH inhibitors, and oral hypomethylating agents) are also improving outcomes for younger and older patients with AML and for those with higher risk myelodysplastic syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33933DOI Listing
October 2021

Predictors of outcomes in adults with acute myeloid leukemia and KMT2A rearrangements.

Blood Cancer J 2021 Sep 29;11(9):162. Epub 2021 Sep 29.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, TX, Houston, USA.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with rearrangement of the lysine methyltransferase 2a gene (KMT2Ar) has adverse outcomes. However, reports on the prognostic impact of various translocations causing KMT2Ar are conflicting. Less is known about associated mutations and their prognostic impact. In a retrospective analysis, we identified 172 adult patients with KMT2Ar AML and compared them to 522 age-matched patients with diploid AML. KMT2Ar AML had fewer mutations, most commonly affecting RAS and FLT3 without significant impact on prognosis, except for patients with ≥2 mutations with lower overall survival (OS). KMT2Ar AML had worse outcomes compared with diploid AML when newly diagnosed and at relapse, especially following second salvage (median OS of 2.4 vs 4.8 months, P < 0.0001). Therapy-related KMT2Ar AML (t-AML) had worse outcomes compared with de novo KMT2Ar AML (median OS of 0.7 years vs 1.4 years, P < 0.0001). Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (allo-HSCT) in first remission was associated with improved OS (5-year, 52 vs 14% for no allo-HSCT, P < 0.0001). In a multivariate analysis, translocation subtypes causing KMT2Ar did not predict survival, unlike age and allo-HSCT. In conclusion, KMT2Ar was associated with adverse outcomes regardless of translocation subtype. Therefore, AML risk stratification guidelines should include all KMT2Ar as adverse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41408-021-00557-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8481264PMC
September 2021

SOHO State of the Art Updates & Next Questions: Intensive and Non-Intensive Approaches for Adults With Philadelphia Chromosome-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 2021 Aug 20. Epub 2021 Aug 20.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL) was historically considered to be a very poor-risk subtype of ALL. However, with the introduction of highly potent BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), Ph+ ALL can now be considered relatively favorable-risk acute leukemia. Considering the high rates of measurable residual disease negativity and excellent long-term survival that has been achieved with regimens incorporating later-generation TKIs and particularly with ponatinib, lower-intensity and even chemotherapy-free regimens are now being evaluated for patients of all ages with Ph+ ALL. The very encouraging early results observed with blinatumomab-based, chemotherapy-free regimens challenge previous notions that all patients with Ph+ ALL should undergo allogeneic stem cell transplantation in first remission, as these regimens are capable of achieving deep and durable remissions without need for transplant in the vast majority of patients, particularly when combined with ponatinib. In this review, we discuss the evolving approach to the treatment of adults with newly diagnosed Ph+ ALL and the major principles that should guide therapy in this disease. We also review the rationale and data supporting the use of novel, chemotherapy-free regimens in Ph+ ALL, and how these approaches may soon become new standards of care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clml.2021.08.003DOI Listing
August 2021

Single-cell polyfunctional proteomics of CD4 cells from patients with AML predicts responses to anti-PD-1-based therapy.

Blood Adv 2021 11;5(22):4569-4574

Department of Leukemia.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a difficult disease to treat disease. In a phase 2 clinical trial in patients with relapsed/refractory AML, combining the hypomethylating agent, azacitidine, with the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab, demonstrated encouraging response rates (33%), median event-free, and overall survival, compared with a historical cohort of contemporary patients treated with azacitidine-based therapies, with an acceptable safety profile. Biomarkers of response are yet to be determined. In this study, we leveraged a multiplexed immune assay to assess the functional states of CD4+ and CD8+ cells at a single-cell level in pretherapy bone marrows in 16 patients with relapsed/refractory AML treated with azacitidine/nivolumab. Effector CD4+ but not CD8+ cells had distinct polyfunctional groups and were associated with responses and better outcomes. Further evaluation of the polyfunctional strength index composition across cell types revealed that interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) were the major drivers of enhanced polyfunctionality index of pretherapy CD4+ subset, whereas Granzyme B, IFN-γ, MIP-1b, and TNF-α drove the nonsignificantly enhanced pretreatment Polyfunctional Strength Index of CD8+ subset in the responders. Single-cell polyfunctional assays were predictive of response in AML and may have a potential role as a biomarker in the wider sphere of immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004583DOI Listing
November 2021

Outcomes of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with KMT2A (MLL) rearrangement - The MD Anderson Experience.

Blood Adv 2021 Sep 15. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, United States.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with t(4;11)(q21;q23) - KMT2A-AFF1 is associated with a poor prognosis. The impact of KMT2A rearrangements other than t(4;11) is uncertain and the benefit of allogeneic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is unclear. We reviewed adult patients with ALL treated at our institution from 1984 to 2019 and identified 50/1102 (5%) with KMT2A rearrangement: 42 (84%) with t(4;11)/KMT2A-AFF1 and 8 (16%) with other gene partners. The median age was 45 years old (range, 18 - 78 years); median white blood cell count was 109.0 x 109/L (range, 0.5 - 1573.0). The complete remission (CR) rate was 88% and the rate of measurable residual disease negativity by flow cytometry at CR was 41% (76% overall during follow-up). At the last follow-up, 14 patients were alive. The 5-year overall survival (OS) rate was 18% (95% CI, 9 - 35%) with no difference between t(4;11) and other KMT2A rearrangements (p=0.87). In a 4-month landmark analysis, the 5-year OS rate was 32% (95% CI, 14 - 70%) in patients who underwent HSCT versus 11% (95% CI, 3 - 39) in others (p=0.10). Our study confirms the poor prognosis of ALL with any KMT2A rearrangement and the role of HSCT in these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004580DOI Listing
September 2021

Long-term outcome of hyper-CVAD-R for Burkitt leukemia/lymphoma and high-grade B-cell lymphoma: focus on CNS relapse.

Blood Adv 2021 10;5(20):3913-3918

Department of Leukemia and.

Burkitt leukemia/lymphoma (BL) and high-grade B-cell lymphoma (HGBL) have a high incidence of central nervous system (CNS) involvement, which is associated with poor prognosis. The hyper-cyclophosphamide, vincristine, Adriamycin, and dexamethasone plus rituximab (CVAD-R) regimen includes systemic and intrathecal CNS-directed therapy to treat and prevent CNS disease. We report here the long-term safety and efficacy of the hyper-CVAD-R regimen in adults with BL and HGBL, focusing on its efficacy to prevent CNS relapse. Among 79 adults (54 BL, 25 HGBL), the median age was 44 years (25% ≥60 years old), 73% had bone marrow (BM) involvement, and 28% had CNS involvement. The complete response rate was 91% (BL 96%; HGBCL 79%; P = .16). The 5-year relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 58% and 52%, respectively. The cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR) was 21% (BL 14%; HGBCL 37%, P = .06) and was associated with baseline BM (27% vs 0%; P = .02) and CNS (42% vs 12%; P < .01) involvement. In multivariate analyses, age and CNS involvement were independent predictors for OS and RFS. The 5-year CNS CIR was 6% (BL 4%; HGBL 11%; P = .31); 16% with baseline CNS involvement (P = .03). Our data support the use of hyper-CVAD-R in preventing CNS relapse, especially among high-risk patients with BM or CNS involvement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004427DOI Listing
October 2021

Final results of a phase 2 clinical trial of LCL161, an oral SMAC mimetic for patients with myelofibrosis.

Blood Adv 2021 08;5(16):3163-3173

Department of Leukemia.

Outcomes in patients with high-risk and treatment-resistant myelofibrosis (MF) post-JAK inhibitor therapy remain poor, with no approved drug therapies beyond the JAK inhibitor class. In certain clinical situations, such as severe thrombocytopenia, administration of most JAK inhibitors are contraindicated. Thus, there is an unmet medical need for the development of novel agents for patients with MF. SMAC mimetics [or inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) antagonists] induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Because these agents are hypothesized to have increased activity in a tumor necrosis factor-α cytokine-rich microenvironment, as is the case with MF, we conducted a single-center, investigator-initiated phase 2 clinical trial, with a monovalent SMAC mimetic LCL161 (oral, starting dose, 1500 mg per week) in patients with intermediate to high-risk MF. In an older group, 66% with ≥2 prior therapies and a median baseline platelet count of 52 × 103/μL and 28% with ASXL1 mutations, we observed a 30% objective response by Revised International Working Group-Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Research and Treatment (IWG-MRT) 2013 criteria. Notably, 6 responding patients achieved clinical improvement of anemia: 4, hemoglobin response; 2, transfusion independence. Median OS was 34 months (range, 2.2-60.1+). Reductions of cIAPs were observed in all responders. The most common toxicity was nausea/vomiting (N/V) in 64% (mostly grade 1/2); fatigue in 46%; and dizziness/vertigo in 30%. There were 4 grade 3/4 adverse events (2, syncope; 1, N/V; 1, skin eruption/pruritis). There were 2 deaths during the study period, both unrelated to the study drug. SMAC mimetics may represent an option for older patients with thrombocytopenia or for those in whom prior JAK inhibitors has failed. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT02098161.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003829DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8405193PMC
August 2021

B-cell lymphoma/leukaemia 11B (BCL11B) expression status helps distinguish early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia/lymphoma (ETP-ALL/LBL) from other subtypes of T-cell ALL/LBL.

Br J Haematol 2021 Sep 16;194(6):1034-1038. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

Department of Hematopathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

B-cell lymphoma/leukaemia 11B (BCL11B) is an essential transcription factor for T-cell lineage commitment and maturation. We investigated BCL11B expression by immunohistochemistry in T-lymphoblastic leukaemia/lymphoma (T-ALL/LBL) (n = 115). The majority (83%) of early T-cell precursor T-ALL/LBL (ETP-ALL) cases showed negative BCL11B expression, while most (84%) of non-ETP-ALL/LBL were positive for BCL11B. A simplified three-marker [BCL11B, cluster of differentiation 5 (CD5), CD13] immunophenotypic score discriminated reliably between ETP-ALL and non-ETP-ALL/LBL. In ETP-ALL, patients with positive BCL11B expression had a better overall survival than those with negative BCL11B (P = 0·009). In summary, BCL11B is a valuable marker for T-ALL/LBL subtyping and serves as a potential prognostic marker in patients with ETP-ALL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.17681DOI Listing
September 2021

Nine-Year Follow-up of Patients with Relapsed Follicular Lymphoma after Nonmyeloablative Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant and Autologous Transplant.

Clin Cancer Res 2021 Nov 11;27(21):5847-5856. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: To compare outcomes between patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma who received a nonmyeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplant (alloSCT) and those who received an autologous transplant (autoSCT).

Patients And Methods: We evaluated 194 patients with follicular lymphoma who received an alloSCT ( = 98) or autoSCT ( = 96) at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX). The transplant type used was based on donor availability and by Medicare reimbursement guidelines. Patients who received an alloSCT were enrolled in four consecutive trials in which they received fludarabine, cyclophosphamide (or bendamustine), and rituximab conditioning. autoSCT patients received R-BEAM (rituximab, carmustine, etoposide, cytarabine, and melphalan).

Results: The median follow-up of survivors was 108 months for the alloSCT group and 102 months for the autoSCT group. Overall survival was significantly better for patients who received an alloSCT compared with those who received an autoSCT (62% vs. 46%; = 0.048). Similarly, progression-free survival rates were 52% in patients who received an alloSCT and 31% in those who received an autoSCT ( < 0.001), and the 8-year relapse rates were 11% and 43%, respectively ( < 0.0001). Only three patients in the alloSCT group relapsed beyond 3.5 years. In the alloSCT group, the rates for grade 2 to 4 acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), grade 3 to 4 acute GVHD, and extensive chronic GVHD were 22%, 9%, and 38%, respectively. In the autoSCT group, the 8-year incidence of secondary myelodysplasia was 11%. Nonrelapse mortality was similar between the two groups (15% vs. 11% at 8 years; = 0.27).

Conclusions: This study shows that alloSCT is curative and confers superior survival compared with autoSCT in patients with follicular lymphoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-1377DOI Listing
November 2021

Clinical and molecular characterization of myeloid sarcoma without medullary leukemia.

Leuk Lymphoma 2021 Aug 12:1-9. Epub 2021 Aug 12.

Department of Leukemia, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Myeloid sarcoma (MS) in the setting of concomitant medullary AML is relatively well described, while much less is known about patients presenting with MS with <20% bone marrow blasts. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 56 patients with MS with <20% marrow blasts seen at MD Anderson between 2005 and 2020. The prevalence of MS without medullary AML was 1.4% among all newly diagnosed AML patients. The majority (75%) of patients had a single known anatomic site involved, with the skin (34%) being the most frequent. The most common histologic subtype was monocytic, and 11% of patients had a known history of an antecedent hematologic disorder. The majority of patients (70%) received frontline intensive chemotherapy induction, with 75% of those evaluable attaining complete or partial responses. The median overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were 3.41 and 3.07 years, respectively. Patients with bone marrow blasts of ≥5% or medullary relapse had inferior outcomes, while age (>60 years) was not associated with outcomes. There was a suggestion that patients with isolated leukemia cutis may have had better outcomes compared to patients with other organ involvement, but this did not reach statistical significance. Most patients who had cytogenetic analysis had a diploid karyotype within their MS and bone marrow pathway mutations were enriched in MS at diagnosis, and at time of medullary relapse. Our study provides a large dataset summarizing the clinical and molecular analysis of patients with MS with <20% BM blasts and suggests that monitoring for medullary leukemia is important for early detection of relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428194.2021.1961235DOI Listing
August 2021

Development of TP53 mutations over the course of therapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Am J Hematol 2021 11 19;96(11):1420-1428. Epub 2021 Aug 19.

The Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

TP53 mutations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are associated with resistance to standard treatments and dismal outcomes. The incidence and prognostic impact of the emergence of newly detectable TP53 mutations over the course of AML therapy has not been well described. We retrospectively analyzed 200 patients with newly diagnosed TP53 wild type AML who relapsed after or were refractory to frontline therapy. Twenty-nine patients (15%) developed a newly detectable TP53 mutation in the context of relapsed/refractory disease. The median variant allelic frequency (VAF) was 15% (range, 1.1%-95.6%). TP53 mutations were more common after intensive therapy versus lower-intensity therapy (23% vs. 10%, respectively; p = 0.02) and in patients who had undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplant versus those who had not (36% vs. 12%, respectively; p = 0.005). Lower TP53 VAF was associated with an increased likelihood of complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi) compared to higher TP53 VAF (CR/CRi rate of 41% for VAF < 20% vs. 13% for VAF ≥ 20%, respectively). The median overall survival (OS) after acquisition of TP53 mutation was 4.6 months, with a 1-year OS rate of 19%. TP53 VAF at relapse was significantly associated with OS; the median OS of patients with TP53 VAF ≥ 20% was 3.5 months versus 6.1 months for those with TP53 VAF < 20% (p < 0.05). In summary, new TP53 mutations may be acquired throughout the course of AML therapy. Sequential monitoring for TP53 mutations is likely to be increasingly relevant in the era of emerging TP53-targeting therapies for AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.26314DOI Listing
November 2021

A phase 2a, single-arm, open-label study of tafasitamab, a humanized, Fc-modified, anti-CD19 antibody, in patients with relapsed/refractory B-precursor cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Cancer 2021 Nov 3;127(22):4190-4197. Epub 2021 Aug 3.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: B-precursor cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) in adults is an aggressive and challenging condition, and patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) disease after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT), or noncandidates for SCT, have a particularly poor prognosis. The authors investigated the activity of the Fc-modified anti-CD19 antibody tafasitamab in adults with R/R B-ALL (NCT01685021).

Methods: Adults with R/R B-ALL received single-agent tafasitamab 12 mg/kg weekly for up to four 28-day cycles. Patients with complete remission (with or without neutrophil/platelet recovery; complete remission [CR] or complete remission with incomplete count recovery [CRi]) after cycles 2, 3, or 4 could continue tafasitamab every 2 weeks for up to 3 further months. The primary end point was overall response rate (ORR).

Results: Twenty-two patients were treated (median, 2 prior lines of therapy; range, 1-8). Six patients completed 2 cycles, and 2 of these patients responded for an ORR of 9%; 16 patients (73%) progressed before their first response assessment. Responses lasted 8 and 4 weeks in the 2 patients with CR and minimal residual disease (MRD)-negative CRi, respectively. Tafasitamab produced rapid B-cell/blast depletion in 21 of 22 patients within 1 to 2 weeks of first administration. Tafasitamab was well tolerated, with the most frequent adverse events being infusion-related reactions (59.1%) and fatigue (40.9%). Grade 3 to 4 febrile neutropenia (22.7%) was the most common hematologic adverse event.

Conclusions: Tafasitamab monotherapy was associated with clinical activity in a subset of patients with R/R B-ALL, including short-lasting CR and MRD-negative CRi. Given its favorable tolerability profile, further development of tafasitamab in chemoimmunotherapy combinations and MRD settings should be explored.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33796DOI Listing
November 2021

Ten-day decitabine with venetoclax versus intensive chemotherapy in relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia: A propensity score-matched analysis.

Cancer 2021 Nov 3;127(22):4213-4220. Epub 2021 Aug 3.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Relapsed/refractory (R/R) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has poor outcomes. Although lower-intensity venetoclax-containing regimens are standard for older/unfit patients with newly diagnosed AML, it is unknown how such regimens compare with intensive chemotherapy (IC) for R/R AML.

Methods: Outcomes of R/R AML treated with 10-day decitabine and venetoclax (DEC10-VEN) were compared with IC-based regimens including idarubicin with cytarabine, with or without cladribine, clofarabine, or fludarabine, with or without additional agents. Propensity scores derived from patient baseline characteristics were used to match DEC10-VEN and IC patients to minimize bias.

Results: Sixty-five patients in the DEC10-VEN cohort were matched to 130 IC recipients. The median ages for the DEC10-VEN and IC groups were 64 and 58 years, respectively, and baseline characteristics were balanced between the 2 cohorts. DEC10-VEN conferred significantly higher responses compared with IC including higher overall response rate (60% vs 36%; odds ratio [OR], 3.28; P < .001), complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi, 19% vs 6%; OR, 3.56; P = .012), minimal residual disease negativity by flow cytometry (28% vs 13%; OR, 2.48; P = .017), and lower rates of refractory disease. DEC10-VEN led to significantly longer median event-free survival compared with IC (5.7 vs 1.5 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30-0.70; P < .001), as well as median overall survival (OS; 6.8 vs 4.7 months; HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.37-0.86; P = .008). DEC10-VEN was independently associated with improved OS compared with IC in multivariate analysis. Exploratory analysis for OS in 27 subgroups showed that DEC10-VEN was comparable with IC as salvage therapy for R/R AML.

Conclusion: DEC10-VEN represents an appropriate salvage therapy and may offer better responses and survival compared with IC in adults with R/R AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33814DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8556232PMC
November 2021

Phase II study of azacitidine with pembrolizumab in patients with intermediate-1 or higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome.

Br J Haematol 2021 Nov 2;195(3):378-387. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression is upregulated in cluster of differentiation 34 (CD34) bone marrow cells from patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Hypomethylating agent (HMA) treatment results in further increased expression of these immune checkpoints. We hypothesised that combining an anti-PD-1 antibody with HMAs may have efficacy in patients with MDS. To test this concept, we designed a phase II trial of the combination of azacitidine and pembrolizumab with two cohorts. In the 17 previously untreated patients, the overall response rate (ORR) was 76%, with a complete response (CR) rate of 18% and median overall survival (mOS) not reached after a median follow-up of 12·8 months. For the HMA-failure cohort (n = 20), the ORR was 25% and CR rate was 5%; with a median follow-up of 6·0 months, the mOS was 5·8 months. The most observed toxicities were pneumonia (32%), arthralgias (24%) and constipation (24%). Immune-related adverse events requiring corticosteroids were required in 43%. Overall, this phase II trial suggests that azacitidine and pembrolizumab is safe with manageable toxicities in patients with higher-risk MDS. This combined therapy may have anti-tumour activity in a subset of patients and merits further studies in the front-line setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.17689DOI Listing
November 2021

Optimizing the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in younger and older adults: new drugs and evolving paradigms.

Leukemia 2021 Nov 25;35(11):3044-3058. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

In the past decade, the available treatments for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have rapidly expanded, in parallel with an increased understanding of the genomic features that impact the disease biology and clinical outcomes. With the development of the anti-CD22 antibody-drug conjugate inotuzumab ozogamicin, the CD3-CD19 bispecific T-cell engager antibody blinatumomab, CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, and the potent BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor ponatinib, the outlook of ALL in both younger and older adults has substantially improved. The availability of highly effective drugs raised important questions concerning the optimal combination and sequence of these agents, their incorporation into frontline regimens, and the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In this review, we discuss the rapidly evolving paradigms in the treatment of ALL, highlighting both established and effective regimens, as well as promising new therapies that are being evaluated in ongoing clinical trials. We specifically focus on novel combination regimens in both the frontline and salvage settings that are leading to new standards of care in the treatment of ALL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41375-021-01277-3DOI Listing
November 2021

A phase 1b/2 study of azacitidine with PD-L1 antibody avelumab in relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia.

Cancer 2021 Oct 25;127(20):3761-3771. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have limited treatment options. In preclinical models of AML, inhibition of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis demonstrated antileukemic activity. Avelumab is an anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) approved in multiple solid tumors. The authors conducted a phase 1b/2 clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of azacitidine with avelumab in patients with R/R AML.

Methods: Patients aged ≥18 years who had R/R AML received azacitidine 75 mg/m on days 1 through 7 and avelumab on days 1 and 14 of 28-day cycles.

Results: Nineteen patients were treated. The median age was 66 years (range, 22-83 years), 100% had European LeukemiaNet 2017 adverse-risk disease, and 63% had prior exposure to a hypomethylating agent. Avelumab was dosed at 3 mg/kg for the first 7 patients and at 10 mg/kg for the subsequent 12 patients. The most common grade ≥3 treatment-related adverse events were neutropenia and anemia in 2 patients each. Two patients experienced immune-related adverse events of grade 2 and grade 3 pneumonitis, respectively. The overall complete remission rate was 10.5%, and both were complete remission with residual thrombocytopenia. The median overall survival was 4.8 months. Bone marrow blasts were analyzed for immune-related markers by mass cytometry and demonstrated significantly higher expression of PD-L2 compared with PD-L1 both pretherapy and at all time points during therapy, with increasing PD-L2 expression on therapy.

Conclusions: Although the combination of azacitidine and avelumab was well tolerated, clinical activity was limited. High expression of PD-L2 on bone marrow blasts may be an important mechanism of resistance to anti-PD-L1 therapy in AML.

Lay Summary: This report describes the results of a phase 1b/2 study of azacitidine with the anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor avelumab for patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The clinical activity of the combination therapy was modest, with an overall response rate of 10.5%. However, mass cytometry analysis revealed significantly higher expression of PD-L2 compared with PD-L1 on AML blasts from all patients who were analyzed at all time points. These data suggest a novel potential role for PD-L2 as a means of AML immune escape.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33690DOI Listing
October 2021

Only SF3B1 mutation involving K700E independently predicts overall survival in myelodysplastic syndromes.

Cancer 2021 Oct 23;127(19):3552-3565. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: SF3B1 mutations (SF3B1 ) in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) frequently involve codon K700E and have a favorable prognosis. The prognostic effect of non-K700E SF3B1 is uncertain.

Methods: The authors analyzed the clinicopathological features and outcomes of a single-institution series of 94 treatment-naive SF3B1 MDS patients (18%) and 415 treatment-naive SF3B1 MDS patients and explored the differences between K700E and non-K700E SF3B1 MDS.

Results: Fifty-five patients (59%) carried K700E. Recurrent non-K700E mutations (39 [41%]) included R625, H662, and K666. Compared with SF3B1 K700E patients, non-K700E patients had a lower median absolute neutrophil count (1.8 vs 2.4; P = .005) and were frequently "high" according to the Revised International Prognostic Scoring System (19% vs 4%; P = .031). Non-K700E MDS was associated frequently with RUNX1 (26% vs 7%; P = .012) and exclusively with BCOR, IDH2, and SRSF2 mutations. A splicing analysis showed the differential distribution of alternatively spliced events and gene expression profiles between K700 and non-K700E MDS patients. The majority (at least 80%) of SF3B1 K700E, SF3B1 non-K700E, and SF3B1 patients were treated with hypomethylating agents. Over a median follow-up of 16 months, SF3B1 had superior overall survival (OS) in comparison with SF3B1 in all MDS patients (not reached vs 25.2 months; P = .0003), in patients with low-grade MDS, and in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes with ring sideroblasts (MDS-RS). Compared with SF3B1 , SF3B1 K700E had superior outcomes in all MDS (median OS, 25 months vs not reached; P = .0001), in low-grade MDS (median OS, 41.3 months vs not reached; P = .0015), and in MDS-RS (median OS, 22.3 months vs not reached; P = .0001), but no significant difference was seen between non-K700E and SF3B1 MDS. By multivariable analysis, the absence of SF3B1 K700E mutations was independently associated with the prognosis.

Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of the SF3B1 mutation subtype in MDS risk assessment.

Lay Summary: Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) with SF3B1 mutations are regarded as having a favorable prognosis by both the World Health Organization and the International Working Group for the Prognosis of Myelodysplastic Syndromes. However, this article shows that only MDS patients with SF3B1 K700E mutations have a favorable prognosis (and not MDS patients with SF3B1 mutations involving other codons). This has important implications for refining future MDS subclassification and risk assessment criteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33745DOI Listing
October 2021

Network-based systems pharmacology reveals heterogeneity in LCK and BCL2 signaling and therapeutic sensitivity of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Nat Cancer 2021 Mar 21;2(3):284-299. Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Department of Computational Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematological malignancy, and novel therapeutics are much needed. Profiling patient leukemia' drug sensitivities , we discovered that 44.4% of childhood and 16.7% of adult T-ALL cases exquisitely respond to dasatinib. Applying network-based systems pharmacology analyses to examine signal circuitry, we identified preTCR-LCK activation as the driver of dasatinib sensitivity, and T-ALL-specific LCK dependency was confirmed in genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screens. Dasatinib-sensitive T-ALLs exhibited high BCL-XL and low BCL2 activity and venetoclax resistance. Discordant sensitivity of T-ALL to dasatinib and venetoclax is strongly correlated with T-cell differentiation, particularly with the dynamic shift in LCK vs. BCL2 activation. Finally, single-cell analysis identified leukemia heterogeneity in LCK and BCL2 signaling and T-cell maturation stage, consistent with dasatinib response. In conclusion, our results indicate that developmental arrest in T-ALL drives differential activation of preTCR-LCK and BCL2 signaling in this leukemia, providing unique opportunities for targeted therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s43018-020-00167-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208590PMC
March 2021

Hyper-CVAD plus ofatumumab versus hyper-CVAD plus rituximab as frontline therapy in adults with Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia: A propensity score analysis.

Cancer 2021 Sep 17;127(18):3381-3389. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: The outcome of hyperfractionated cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, and dexamethasone plus ofatumumab hyper-CVAD + ofatumumab (hyper-CVAD + ofatumumab) has not been compared with the outcome of hyperfractionated cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, and dexamethasone plus ofatumumab hyper-CVAD plus rituximab (hyper-CVAD + Rituximab) in Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in a randomized clinical trial.

Methods: The authors compared the outcomes of 69 patients treated with hyper-CVAD + ofatumumab and 95 historical-control patients treated with hyper-CVAD + Rituximab. Historical-control patients were treated with hyper-CVAD + Rituximab if they had CD20 expression ≥ 20%. Ofatumumab (day 1 of course 1, 300 mg intravenously; subsequent doses, 2000 mg intravenously) was administered on days 1 and 11 of courses 1 and 3 and on days 1 and 8 of courses 2 and 4 for a total of 8 doses. A propensity score analysis with inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) was performed to adjust for baseline covariates between groups.

Results: The median event-free survival with stem cell transplantation (SCT) censoring was 33 and 65 months with hyper-CVAD + Rituximab and hyper-CVAD + ofatumumab, respectively (crude P = .064; IPTW P = .054). The median overall survival with SCT censoring was 52 months and not reached, respectively (crude P = .087; IPTW P = .097).

Conclusions: Hyper-CVAD + ofatumumab was associated with better outcomes than hyper-CVAD + Rituximab among patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-negative ALL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33655DOI Listing
September 2021

Therapeutic implications of menin inhibition in acute leukemias.

Leukemia 2021 09 15;35(9):2482-2495. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Menin inhibitors are novel targeted agents currently in clinical development for the treatment of genetically defined subsets of acute leukemia. Menin has a tumor suppressor function in endocrine glands. Germline mutations in the gene encoding menin cause the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome, a hereditary condition associated with tumors of the endocrine glands. However, menin is also critical for leukemogenesis in subsets driven by rearrangement of the Lysine Methyltransferase 2A (KMT2A) gene, previously known as mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL), which encodes an epigenetic modifier. These seemingly opposing functions of menin can be explained by its various roles in gene regulation. Therefore, leukemias with rearrangement of KMT2A are predicted to respond to menin inhibition with early clinical data validating this proof-of-concept. These leukemias affect infants, children and adults, and lead to adverse outcomes with current standard therapies. Recent studies have identified novel targets in acute leukemia that are susceptible to menin inhibition, such as mutated Nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1), the most common genetic alteration in adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In addition to these alterations, other leukemia subsets with similar transcriptional dependency could be targeted through menin inhibition. This led to rationally designed clinical studies, investigating small-molecule oral menin inhibitors in relapsed acute leukemias with promising early results. Herein, we discuss the physiologic and malignant biology of menin, the mechanisms of leukemia in these susceptible subsets, and future therapeutic strategies using these inhibitors in acute leukemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41375-021-01309-yDOI Listing
September 2021

Impact of frontline treatment approach on outcomes of myeloid blast phase CML.

J Hematol Oncol 2021 06 15;14(1):94. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Unit 0428, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Background: The natural course of untreated chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is progression to an aggressive blast phase. Even in the current era of BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), the outcomes of blast phase CML remain poor with no consensus frontline treatment approach.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the response rates and survival outcomes of 104 consecutive patients with myeloid blast phase CML (CML-MBP) treated from 2000 to 2019 based on 4 different frontline treatment approaches: intensive chemotherapy (IC) + TKI (n = 20), hypomethylating agent (HMA) + TKI (n = 20), TKI alone (n = 56), or IC alone (n = 8). We also evaluated the impact of TKI selection and subsequent allogeneic stem cell transplant (ASCT) on patient outcomes.

Results: Response rates were similar between patients treated with IC + TKI and HMA + TKI. Compared to treatment with TKI alone, treatment with IC/HMA + TKI resulted in a higher rate of complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete count recovery (CRi) (57.5% vs 33.9%, p < 0.05), a higher complete cytogenetic response rate (45% vs 10.7%, p < 0.001), and more patients proceeding to ASCT (32.5% vs 10.7%, p < 0.01). With a median follow-up of 6.7 years, long-term outcomes were similar between the IC + TKI and HMA + TKI groups. Combination therapy with IC/HMA + TKI was superior to therapy with TKI alone, including when analysis was limited to those treated with a 2nd/3rd-generation TKI. When using a 2nd/3rd-generation TKI, IC/HMA + TKI led to lower 5-year cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR; 44% vs 86%, p < 0.05) and superior 5-year event-free survival (EFS; 28% vs 0%, p < 0.05) and overall survival (OS; 34% vs 8%, p = 0.23) compared to TKI alone. Among patients who received IC/HMA + TKI, EFS and OS was superior for patients who received a 2nd/3rd generation TKI compared to those who received imatinib-based therapy. In a landmark analysis, 5-year OS was higher for patients who proceeded to ASCT (58% vs 22%, p = 0.12).

Conclusions: Compared to patients treated with TKI alone for CML-MBP, treatment with IC + TKI or HMA + TKI led to improved response rates, CIR, EFS, and OS, particularly for patients who received a 2nd/3rd-generation TKI. Combination therapy with IC + TKI or HMA + TKI, rather than a TKI alone, should be considered the optimal treatment strategy for patients with CML-MBP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13045-021-01106-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8204504PMC
June 2021

Current Approaches to Philadelphia Chromosome-Positive B-Cell Lineage Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Role of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor and Stem Cell Transplant.

Curr Oncol Rep 2021 06 14;23(8):95. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Purpose Of Review: Over the past two decades, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have changed the management of patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and this has led to significant improvement in their outcome. In this review, we will provide an overview of the current understanding of treatment of Ph+ ALL focusing on TKIs, alloHSCT, and novel therapies.

Recent Findings: The advent of more potent TKIs and the novel therapeutic options including blinatumomab, inotuzumab ozogamicin, and CD19 CAR-T therapy has changed the role of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (alloHSCT) and intensive chemotherapy. To avoid toxicity from the historical treatment strategies, a more individualized, targeted approach to therapy including detection and monitoring of measurable residual disease (MRD) has become of interest. The treatment of patients with Ph+ ALL has been rapidly evolving with a more individualized, targeted treatment and use of TKIs and novel therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11912-021-01086-yDOI Listing
June 2021

Incidental identification of inv(16)(p13.1q22)/- variant transcript in a patient with therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia by routine leukemia translocation panel screen: implications for diagnosis and therapy.

Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud 2021 06 11;7(3). Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Department of Hematopathology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

A 52-yr-old woman presented with therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia. A bone marrow biopsy showed 21% blasts with a myeloid phenotype and no other notable features such as abnormal eosinophils. Routine nanofluidics-based reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) leukemia translocation panel designed to screen for recurrent genetic abnormalities in acute leukemia detected an inversion 16 transcript variant E. This prompted rereview of karyotype and fluorescence in situ hybridization studies, which confirmed inv(16), leading to appropriate prognostication and modification of treatment. This case underscores the utility of a powerful molecular screening method for the routine detection of recurrent genetic abnormalities of acute myeloid leukemia. It was especially useful in this case because of the lack of characteristic morphologic findings seen in inversion 16 and the difficulty in its detection by conventional karyotype analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/mcs.a006084DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208042PMC
June 2021

Ibrutinib Plus Venetoclax for First-line Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: A Nonrandomized Phase 2 Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2021 Aug;7(8):1213-1219

Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Importance: Oral targeted therapies have advanced the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These therapies include Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors, used as monotherapy, and the Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax, typically combined with the CD20 monoclonal antibody. Preclinical studies have shown synergy between Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax.

Objective: To examine the rate of complete remission, complete remission with incomplete count recovery, and bone marrow-undetectable measurable residual disease (U-MRD) after treatment with the combination of ibrutinib and venetoclax.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A single-center, phase 2 nonrandomized trial enrolled patients from August 17, 2016, to June 5, 2018. Participants included previously untreated patients with CLL who met International Workshop on CLL 2008 criteria for treatment indication. Patients were required to have at least 1 of the following features: del(17p), TP53-mutated CLL, del(11q), unmutated immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable gene, or age 65 years or older.

Interventions: Therapy consisted of ibrutinib, 420 mg/d, monotherapy for 3 cycles, thereafter combined with venetoclax (standard weekly dose ramp-up to 400 mg/d) for a total of 24 cycles of combination treatment. Responses were assessed at serial points according to International Workshop on CLL 2008 criteria. Measurable residual disease (MRD) was assessed by multicolor flow cytometry with a sensitivity of 10-4.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Outcomes included complete remission, complete remission with incomplete count recovery, and bone marrow U-MRD rate.

Results: Eighty patients (57 [71%] men) were treated; median age was 65 years (range, 26-83 years). The median follow-up for all 80 patients was 38.5 months (range, 5.6-51.1 months). Five patients discontinued the study during the ibrutinib monotherapy phase; the remaining 75 patients received combination therapy. On an intent-to-treat analysis of combined treatment, 45 (56%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission at 12 cycles and 53 (66%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission at 24 cycles. Overall, 60 (75%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission as their best response. Responses were seen across all high-risk subgroups, independent of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable gene mutation status, fluorescence in situ hybridization category, or TP53 mutation. The 3-year progression-free survival was 93%, and 3-year overall survival was 96%. No patient had CLL progression; 2 patients developed Richter transformation.

Conclusions And Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that combination therapy with ibrutinib and venetoclax might be beneficial for previously untreated patients with CLL. Remissions appeared to be durable during a follow-up of more than 3 years, with activity seen across high-risk disease subgroups, including those with del(17p)/TP53-mutated CLL.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02756897.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.1649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8193546PMC
August 2021

Venetoclax Combined With FLAG-IDA Induction and Consolidation in Newly Diagnosed and Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

J Clin Oncol 2021 09 27;39(25):2768-2778. Epub 2021 May 27.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Purpose: Sixty percent of newly diagnosed patients with acute myeloid leukemia (ND-AML) receiving frontline therapy attain a complete response (CR), yet 30%-40% of patients relapse. Relapsed or refractory AML (R/R-AML) remains a particularly adverse population necessitating improved therapeutic options. This phase Ib/II study evaluated the safety and efficacy of fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin combined with the B-cell lymphoma-2 inhibitor venetoclax in ND-AML and R/R-AML.

Materials And Methods: The phase IB portion (PIB) enrolled patients with R/R-AML using a 3 + 3 dose escalation and de-escalation algorithm for identification of maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicities. The phase II portion enrolled patients into two arms to evaluate response and time-to-event end points: phase IIA (PIIA): ND-AML and phase IIB (PIIB): R/R-AML.

Results: Sixty-eight patients have enrolled to date (PIB, 16; PIIA, 29; PIIB, 23). Median age was 46 years (range, 20-73). Grade 3 and 4 adverse events occurring in ≥ 10% of patients included febrile neutropenia (50%), bacteremia (35%), pneumonia (28%), and sepsis (12%). The overall response rate for PIB, PIIA, and PIIB was 75%, 97%, and 70% with 75%, 90%, and 61%, respectively, achieving a composite CR. Measurable residual disease-negative composite CR was attained in 96% of ND-AML and 69% of R/R-AML patients. After a median follow-up of 12 months, median overall survival (OS) for both PII cohorts was not reached. Fifty-six percent of patients proceeded to allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (ND-AML, 69%; R/R-AML, 46%). In R/R-AML, allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation resulted in a significant improvement in OS (median OS, NR; 1-year OS, 87%). One-year survival post-HSCT was 94% in ND-AML and 78% in R/R-AML.

Conclusion: Fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin + venetoclax represents an effective intensive treatment regimen in ND-AML and R/R-AML patients, associated with deep remissions and a high rate of transition to successful transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.03736DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8407653PMC
September 2021
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