Publications by authors named "Micaela Bergamaschi"

35 Publications

Bosutinib in the real-life treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia patients aged >65 years resistant/intolerant to previous tyrosine-kinase inhibitors.

Hematol Oncol 2021 Feb 22. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Hematology, Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

To evaluate the role of bosutinib in elderly patients aged >65 years with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a real-life cohort of 101 chronic-phase CML patients followed up in 23 Italian centers and treated with bosutinib in second or a subsequent line was retrospectively evaluated. Starting dose of bosutinib was 500 mg/day in 25 patients (24.8%), 400 mg/day in 7 patients (6.9%), 300 mg/day in 33 patients (32.7%), 200 mg/day in 34 patients (33.6%), and 100 mg/day in 2 patients (2.0%). Grade 3/4 hematological toxicity occurred in 7/101 patients (6.9%) and grade 3/4 extra-hematological toxicity in 19/101 patients (18.8%). Permanent bosutinib discontinuation due to toxicity was needed in 12 patients (11.9%). Among the 96 patients evaluable for response, 74 (77.0%) achieved a complete cytogenetic response (CCyR), while 64 of these 74 patients in CCyR (66.6% of all 96 evaluable patients) also achieved a molecular response (MR) (major MR [MR 3.0] in 21 [21.8%], deep MR [MR 4.0/4.5] in 43 [44.8%]). The 3-year event-free survival and overall survival of the whole patients' cohort from bosutinib start were 60.9% (CI 95% 49.3-72.5) and 86.4% (CI 95% 77.2-95.6), respectively. Our real-life data show that bosutinib is effective, with a favorable safety profile, also in elderly patients with important comorbidities and resistance and/or intolerance to previous tyrosine-kinase inhibitor treatments. As a consequence, it could play a significant role in current clinical practice for frail patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2851DOI Listing
February 2021

Impact of comorbidities and body mass index on the outcome of polycythemia vera patients.

Hematol Oncol 2021 Feb 15. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Istituto di Ematologia "Seràgnoli", Bologna, Italy.

In 816 patients with 2016 World Health Organization-defined polycythemia vera (PV) enrolled in a multicenter retrospective study, we investigated the predictive value of Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) and body mass index (BMI) on thrombosis, progression to post-PV myelofibrosis (PPV-MF) and survival. Patients were subgrouped according to CCI = 0 (58.1%, no comorbidities) or CCI ≥ 1 (41.9%) and according to normal/underweight (BMI < 25, 54.5%) or overweight/obesity (BMI ≥ 25, 45.5%) at PV diagnosis. BMI was available for 529 patients. Patients with CCI ≥ 1 were older and more frequently presented cardiovascular risk factors compared to patients with CCI = 0 (p < 0.001), while overweight/obese patients were more frequently males (p < 0.001). Cumulative incidence of thromboses with death as competing risk was 13.3% at 10 years. Multivariable analysis with death as competing risk showed that previous thromboses (subdistribution hazard ratio [SHR]: 2.1, p = 0.01) and hypertension (SHR: 1.77, p = 0.04) were significantly associated with a higher thrombotic risk, while BMI ≥ 25 lost statistical significance (SHR: 1.69, p = 0.05) and CCI ≥ 1 was excluded after evaluation of goodness of fit. After a median follow-up of 6.1 years, progression to PPV-MF occurred in 44 patients, and 75 patients died. BMI ≥ 25 was associated with a lower probability of progression to PPV-MF (SHR: 0.38, CI95%: 0.15-0.94, p = 0.04) and better survival (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.42, CI95%: 0.18-0.97, p = 0.04). CCI ≥ 1 did not affect progression to PPV-MF (p = 0.44) or survival (p = 0.71).  The evaluation of CCI and BMI may improve the prognostic definition of PV. In patients with hypertension an accurate evaluation of thrombotic risk is warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2843DOI Listing
February 2021

Second primary malignancy in myelofibrosis patients treated with ruxolitinib.

Br J Haematol 2020 Nov 21. Epub 2020 Nov 21.

Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, via Albertoni 15, Bologna, Italy.

Ruxolitinib (RUX), the first JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor approved for myelofibrosis (MF) therapy, has recently been associated with the occurrence of second primary malignancies (SPMs), mainly lymphomas and non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs). We analyzed the incidence, risk factors and outcome of SPMs in 700 MF patients treated with RUX in a real-world context. Median follow-up from starting RUX was 2·9 years. Overall, 80 (11·4%) patients developed 87 SPMs after RUX start. NMSCs were the most common SPMs (50·6% of the cases). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that male sex [hazard ratio (HR): 2·37, 95% confidence interval (95%CI): 1·22-4·60, P = 0·01] and thrombocytosis> 400 × 10 /l at RUX start (HR:1·98, 95%CI: 1·10-4·60, P = 0·02) were associated with increased risk for SPMs. Risk factors for NMSC alone were male sex (HR: 3·14, 95%CI: 1·24-7·92, P = 0·02) and duration of hydroxycarbamide and RUX therapy > 5 years (HR: 3·20, 95%CI: 1·17-8·75, P = 0·02 and HR: 2·93, 95%CI: 1·39-6·17, P = 0·005 respectively). In SPMs excluding NMSCs, male sex (HR: 2·41, 95%CI: 1·11-5·25, P = 0·03), platelet > 400 × 10 /l (HR: 3·30, 95%CI: 1·67-6·50, P = 0·001) and previous arterial thromboses (HR: 3·47, 95%CI: 1·48-8·14, P = 0·004) were shown to be associated with higher risk of SPMs. While it is reassuring that no aggressive lymphoma was documented, active skin surveillance is recommended in all patients and particularly after prolonged hydroxycaramide therapy; oncological screening should be triggered by thrombocytosis and arterial thrombosis, particularly in males.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.17192DOI Listing
November 2020

The new small tyrosine kinase inhibitor ARQ531 targets acute myeloid leukemia cells by disrupting multiple tumor-addicted programs.

Haematologica 2020 10 1;105(10):2420-2431. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

University of Genoa, DiMI; IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Genoa, Italy.

Tyrosine kinases have been implicated in promoting tumorigenesis of several human cancers. Exploiting these vulnerabilities has been shown to be an effective anti-tumor strategy as demonstrated for example by the Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, ibrutinib, for treatment of various blood cancers. Here, we characterize a new multiple kinase inhibitor, ARQ531, and evaluate its mechanism of action in preclinical models of acute myeloid leukemia. Treatment with ARQ531, by producing global signaling pathway deregulation, resulted in impaired cell cycle progression and survival in a large panel of leukemia cell lines and patient-derived tumor cells, regardless of the specific genetic background and/or the presence of bone marrow stromal cells. RNA-seq analysis revealed that ARQ531 constrained tumor cell proliferation and survival through Bruton's tyrosine kinase and transcriptional program dysregulation, with proteasome-mediated MYB degradation and depletion of short-lived proteins that are crucial for tumor growth and survival, including ERK, MYC and MCL1. Finally, ARQ531 treatment was effective in a patient-derived leukemia mouse model with significant impairment of tumor progression and survival, at tolerated doses. These data justify the clinical development of ARQ531 as a promising targeted agent for the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2019.224956DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556675PMC
October 2020

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells impair osteoblastogenesis and promote osteoclastogenesis: role of TNFα, IL-6 and IL-11 cytokines.

Haematologica 2020 08 27. Epub 2020 Aug 27.

Molecular Pathology Unit, IRCCS-Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Genoa, Italy;

Bone skeletal alterations are no longer considered a rare event in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), especially at more advanced stages of the disease. This study is aimed at elucidating the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Bone marrow stromal cells, induced to differentiate toward osteoblasts in osteogenic medium, appeared unable to complete their maturation upon co-culture with CLL cells, CLL cells-derived conditioned media (CLL-cm) or CLL-sera (CLL-sr). Inhibition of osteoblast differentiation was documented by decreased levels of RUNX2 and osteocalcin mRNA expression, by increased osteopontin and DKK-1 mRNA levels, and by a marked reduction of mineralized matrix deposition. The addition of neutralizing TNFα, IL-11 or anti-IL-6R monoclonal antibodies to these co-cultures resulted into restoration of bone mineralization, indicating the involvement of these cytokines: these findings were further supported by silencing TNFα, IL-11 and IL-6 in leukemic cells. We also demonstrated that the addition of CLL-cm to monocytes, previously stimulated with MCSF and RANKL, significantly amplified the formation of large mature osteoclasts as well as their bone resorption activity. Moreover enhanced osteoclastogenesis, induced by CLL-cm, was significantly reduced by treating cultures with the anti-TNFα moAb Infliximab; an analogous effect was observed by the use of the BTK inhibitor Ibrutinib. CLL cells, co-cultured with mature osteoclasts, were interestingly protected from apoptosis and upregulated Ki-67. These experimental results parallel the direct correlation between TNFα amounts in CLL sera and the degree of compact bone erosion we previously described, further strengthening the indication of a reciprocal influence between leukemic cells expansion and bone structure derangement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2019.231456DOI Listing
August 2020

Erythropoietin treatment in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with frontline imatinib who developed late anemia.

Eur J Haematol 2020 Sep 22;105(3):286-291. Epub 2020 May 22.

Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, University "La Sapienza" of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Background: Role of erythropoietin (EPO) in the treatment of late anemia in patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is still undefined.

Methods: Fifty CML patients treated at 14 institutions with frontline imatinib for at least 12 months and in stable complete cytogenetic response who developed a late chronic anemia treated with EPO were retrospectively evaluated.

Results: Median time from imatinib start to EPO treatment was 42.2 months [interquartile range (IQR) 20.8-91.9]. Median Hb value at EPO starting time was 9.9 g/dL (IQR 8.9-10.3): Eleven patients (22.0%) were transfusion dependent. Alpha-EPO (40 000 UI weekly) was employed in 37 patients, beta-EPO (30 000 UI weekly) in 9 patients, zeta-EPO (40 000 UI weekly) in 2 patients, and darbepoetin (150 mcg/weekly) in the remaining 2 patients. On the whole, 41 patients (82.0%) achieved an erythroid response, defined as a stable (>3 months) improvement >1.5 g/dL of Hb level, and 9 patients (18.0%) indeed resulted resistant. Among responding patients, 10 relapsed after a median time from EPO start of 20.7 months (IQR 10.8-63.7). No EPO-related toxicity was observed.

Conclusions: Results of EPO treatment for late chronic anemia during long-lasting imatinib therapy are encouraging, with a high rate of response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.13436DOI Listing
September 2020

Risk factors for progression to blast phase and outcome in 589 patients with myelofibrosis treated with ruxolitinib: Real-world data.

Hematol Oncol 2020 Aug 20;38(3):372-380. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

Department of Scienze Mediche, Chirurgiche e Tecnologie Avanzate "G.F. Ingrassia", University of Catania, Catania, Italy.

The impact of ruxolitinib therapy on evolution to blast phase (BP) in patients with myelofibrosis (MF) is still uncertain. In 589 MF patients treated with ruxolitinib, we investigated incidence and risk factors for BP and we described outcome according to disease characteristics and treatment strategy. After a median follow-up from ruxolitinib start of 3 years (range 0.1-7.6), 65 (11%) patients transformed to BP during (93.8%) or after treatment. BP incidence rate was 3.7 per 100 patient-years, comparably in primary and secondary MF (PMF/SMF) but significantly lower in intermediate-1 risk patients (2.3 vs 5.6 per 100 patient-years in intermediate-2/high-risk patients, P < .001). In PMF and SMF cohorts, previous interferon therapy seemed to correlate with a lower probability of BP (HR 0.13, P = .001 and HR 0.22, P = .02, respectively). In SMF, also platelet count <150 × 10 /l (HR 2.4, P = .03) and peripheral blasts ≥3% (HR 3.3, P = .004) were significantly associated with higher risk of BP. High-risk category according to dynamic International Prognostic Score System (DIPSS) and myelofibrosis secondary to PV and ET Collaboration Prognostic Model (MYSEC-PM predicted BP in patients with PMF and SMF, respectively. Median survival after BP was 0.2 (95% CI: 0.1-0.3) years. Therapy for BP included hypomethylating agents (12.3%), induction chemotherapy (9.2%), allogeneic transplant (6.2%) or supportive care (72.3%). Patients treated with supportive therapy had a median survival of 6 weeks, while 73% of the few transplanted patients were alive at a median follow-up of 2 years. Progression to BP occurs in a significant fraction of ruxolitinib-treated patients and is associated with DIPSS and MYSEC-PM risk in PMF and SMF, respectively.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2737DOI Listing
August 2020

Managing chronic myeloid leukemia for treatment-free remission: a proposal from the GIMEMA CML WP.

Blood Adv 2019 12;3(24):4280-4290

Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Several papers authored by international experts have proposed recommendations on the management of BCR-ABL1+ chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Following these recommendations, survival of CML patients has become very close to normal. The next, ambitious, step is to bring as many patients as possible into a condition of treatment-free remission (TFR). The Gruppo Italiano Malattie EMatologiche dell'Adulto (GIMEMA; Italian Group for Hematologic Diseases of the Adult) CML Working Party (WP) has developed a project aimed at selecting the treatment policies that may increase the probability of TFR, taking into account 4 variables: the need for TFR, the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), the characteristics of leukemia, and the patient. A Delphi-like method was used to reach a consensus among the representatives of 50 centers of the CML WP. A consensus was reached on the assessment of disease risk (EUTOS Long Term Survival [ELTS] score), on the definition of the most appropriate age boundaries for the choice of first-line treatment, on the choice of the TKI for first-line treatment, and on the definition of the responses that do not require a change of the TKI (BCR-ABL1 ≤10% at 3 months, ≤1% at 6 months, ≤0.1% at 12 months, ≤0.01% at 24 months), and of the responses that require a change of the TKI, when the goal is TFR (BCR-ABL1 >10% at 3 and 6 months, >1% at 12 months, and >0.1% at 24 months). These suggestions may help optimize the treatment strategy for TFR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000865DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6929396PMC
December 2019

Life after ruxolitinib: Reasons for discontinuation, impact of disease phase, and outcomes in 218 patients with myelofibrosis.

Cancer 2020 03 20;126(6):1243-1252. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Institute of Hematology "L. and A. Seràgnoli", St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.

Background: After discontinuing ruxolitinib, the outcome of patients with myelofibrosis reportedly has been poor. The authors investigated whether disease characteristics before the receipt of ruxolitinib may predict drug discontinuation in patients with myelofibrosis and whether reasons for drug discontinuation, disease phase at discontinuation, and salvage therapies may influence the outcome.

Methods: A centralized electronic clinical database was created in 20 European hematology centers, including clinical and laboratory data for 524 patients who received ruxolitinib for myelofibrosis.

Results: At 3 years, 40.8% of patients had stopped ruxolitinib. Baseline predictors of drug discontinuation were: intermediate-2-risk/high-risk category (Dynamic International Prognostic Score System), a platelet count <100 ×10 per liter, transfusion dependency, and unfavorable karyotype. At last contact, 268 patients (51.1%) had discontinued therapy, and the median drug exposure was 17.5 months. Fifty patients (18.7%) died while taking ruxolitinib. The reasons for discontinuation in the remaining 218 patients were the lack (22.9%) or loss (11.9%) of a spleen response, ruxolitinib-related adverse events (27.5%), progression to blast phase (23.4%), ruxolitinib-unrelated adverse events (9.2%), and allogeneic transplantation during response (5.1%). The median survival after ruxolitinib was 13.2 months and was significantly better in the 167 patients who discontinued ruxolitinib in chronic phase (27.5 vs 3.9 months for those who discontinued in blast phase; P < .001). No survival differences were observed among patients who discontinued ruxolitinib in chronic phase because of lack of response, loss of response, or ruxolitinib-related adverse events. The use of investigational agents and/or ruxolitinib rechallenge were associated with improved outcome.

Conclusions: The survival of patients with myelofibrosis after discontinuation of ruxolitinib is poor, particularly for those who discontinue in blast phase. Salvage therapies can improve outcome, emphasizing the need for novel therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32664DOI Listing
March 2020

Health-related quality of life of newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with first-line dasatinib versus imatinib therapy.

Leukemia 2020 02 2;34(2):488-498. Epub 2019 Sep 2.

Institute of Hematology "L. & A. Seràgnoli", Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine (DIMES), Sant'Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

There is paucity of evidence-based data on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We performed a multicenter propensity-matched case-control study to compare HRQOL of newly diagnosed CML patients treated with front-line dasatinib (cases) or imatinib (controls). Patient-reported HRQOL was assessed with the EORTC QLQ-C30 and the EORTC QLQ-CML24 questionnaires. The impact on daily life scale of the EORTC QLQ-CML24 was selected a priori in the protocol as the primary HRQOL scale for the comparative analysis. Overall, 323 CML patients were enrolled of whom 223 in therapy with imatinib and 100 in therapy with dasatinib. Patients treated with dasatinib reported better disease-specific HRQOL outcomes in impact on daily life (Δ = 8.72, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.17-14.27, p = 0.002), satisfaction with social life (Δ = 13.45, 95% CI: 5.82-21.08, p = 0.001), and symptom burden (Δ = 7.69, 95% CI: 3.42-11.96, p = 0.001). Analysis by age groups showed that, in patients aged 60 years and over, differences favoring dasatinib were negligible across several cancer generic and disease-specific HRQOL domains. Our findings provide novel comparative HRQOL data that extends knowledge on safety and efficacy of these two TKIs and may help to facilitate first-line treatment decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41375-019-0563-0DOI Listing
February 2020

Impact of 2016 WHO diagnosis of early and overt primary myelofibrosis on presentation and outcome of 232 patients treated with ruxolitinib.

Hematol Oncol 2019 Oct 7;37(4):418-423. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

Division of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, University Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

The 2016 WHO criteria identified early primary myelofibrosis (PMF) as an individual entity with milder clinical features and better outcome compared with overt PMF. Here, we compared early and overt PMF patients treated with ruxolitinib in terms of baseline clinical/laboratory characteristics, response, and toxicity to treatment. We observed that early-PMF patients achieve better and more stable spleen and symptoms responses, with significantly lower rates of hematological toxicities. No differences in overall and leukemia-free survival were detected between the two cohorts. The application of 2016 WHO criteria is crucial to identify those PMF patients who deserve a stricter monitoring during treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2619DOI Listing
October 2019

Digital PCR improves the quantitation of DMR and the selection of CML candidates to TKIs discontinuation.

Cancer Med 2019 05 4;8(5):2041-2055. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

Unit of Blood Diseases and Stem Cell Transplantation, DPT of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, ASST Spedali Civili di Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Treatment-free remission (TFR) by tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) discontinuation in patients with deep molecular response (DMR) is a paramount goal in the current chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) therapeutic strategy. The best DMR level by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) for TKI discontinuation is still a matter of debate. To compare the accuracy of digital PCR (dPCR) and RT-qPCR for BCR-ABL1 transcript levels detection, 142 CML patients were monitored for a median time of 24 months. Digital PCR detected BCR-ABL1 transcripts in the RT-qPCR undetectable cases. The dPCR analysis of the samples, grouped by the MR classes, revealed a significant difference between MR and MR (P = 0.0104) or MR (P = 0.0032). The clinical and hematological characteristics of the patients grouped according to DMR classes (MR vs MR ) were superimposable. Conversely, patients with dPCR values <0.468 BCR-ABL1 copies/µL (as we previously described) showed a longer DMR duration (P = 0.0220) and mainly belonged to MR (P = 0.0442) classes compared to patients with higher dPCR values. Among the 142 patients, 111 (78%) discontinued the TKI treatment; among the 111 patients, 24 (22%) lost the MR or MR . RT-qPCR was not able to discriminate patients with higher risk of MR loss after discontinuation (P = 0.8100). On the contrary, according to dPCR, 12/25 (48%) patients with BCR-ABL1 values ≥0.468 and 12/86 (14%) patients with BCR-ABL1 values <0.468 lost DMR in this cohort, respectively (P = 0.0003). Treatment-free remission of patients who discontinued TKI with a dPCR <0.468 was significantly higher compared to patients with dPCR ≥ 0.468 (TFR at 2 years 83% vs 52% P = 0.0017, respectively). In conclusion, dPCR resulted in an improved recognition of stable DMR and of candidates to TKI discontinuation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.2087DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6536984PMC
May 2019

Observational study of chronic myeloid leukemia Italian patients who discontinued tyrosine kinase inhibitors in clinical practice.

Haematologica 2019 08 28;104(8):1589-1596. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, Orbassano.

It is judged safe to discontinue treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in experimental trials on treatment-free remission (TFR). We collected a total of 293 Italian patients with chronic phase CML who discontinued TKI in deep molecular response. Seventy-two percent of patients were on treatment with imatinib, and 28% with second generation TKI at the time of discontinuation. Median duration of treatment with the last TKI was 77 months [Interquartile Range (IQR) 54;111], median duration of deep molecular response was 46 months (IQR 31;74). Duration of treatment with TKI and duration of deep molecular response were shorter with second generation TKI than with imatinib (<0.001). Eighty-eight percent of patients discontinued as per clinical practice, and reasons for stopping treatment were: toxicity (20%), pregnancy (6%), and shared decision between treating physician and patient (62%). After a median follow up of 34 months (range, 12-161) overall estimated TFR was 62% (95%CI: 56;68). At 12 months, TFR was 68% (95%CI: 62;74) for imatinib, 73% (95%CI: 64;83) for second generation TKI. Overall median time to restart treatment was six months (IQR 4;11). No progressions occurred. Although our study has the limitation of a retrospective study, our experience within the Italian population confirms that discontinuation of imatinib and second generation TKI is feasible and safe in clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2018.205054DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6669161PMC
August 2019

Differences in presenting features, outcome and prognostic models in patients with primary myelofibrosis and post-polycythemia vera and/or post-essential thrombocythemia myelofibrosis treated with ruxolitinib. New perspective of the MYSEC-PM in a large multicenter study.

Semin Hematol 2018 10 5;55(4):248-255. Epub 2018 Jun 5.

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

Recently, the myelofibrosis secondary to PV and ET prognostic model (MYSEC-PM) was introduced to assess prognosis in myelofibrosis (MF) secondary to polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia (post-PV and post-ET MF), replacing the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) and/or Dynamic IPSS (DIPSS) that was applied for primary MF (PMF). In a cohort of 421 ruxolitinib (RUX)-treated patients (post-PV and post-ET MF: 44.2%), we evaluated the following: (1) disease phenotype, responses, and toxicity to RUX; and (2) performance of the MYSEC-PM in post-PV or post-ET MF. While the IPSS failed to correctly stratify post-PV or post-ET MF patients at diagnosis, the MYSEC-PM identified 4 risk categories projected at significantly different survival probability (P < .001). Additionally, the MYSEC-PM maintained a prognostic value in post-PV and post-ET MF also when used over time, at RUX start. Notably, the MYSEC-PM reclassified 41.8% and 13.6% of patients into a lower and higher risk category, respectively. Finally, patients at intermediate-1 risk had significantly higher spleen responses and lower hematological toxicities compared to higher risk patients. Compared to PMF, post-PV and post-ET MF presented a more hyperproliferative disease, with higher leukocyte and/or platelet count and hemoglobin levels both at diagnosis and at RUX start. Despite comparable response rates, post-PV and post-ET MF had lower rate of RUX-induced anemia and thrombocytopenia at 3 and 6 months. The study validates MYSEC-PM in post-PV and post-ET MF prognostication. Post-PV or post-ET MF represents a separate entity compared to PMF in terms of clinical manifestations and toxicity to RUX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.seminhematol.2018.05.013DOI Listing
October 2018

Impact of comorbidities and body mass index in patients with myelofibrosis treated with ruxolitinib.

Ann Hematol 2019 Apr 4;98(4):889-896. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

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

Comorbidities defined by the Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) and body mass index (BMI) are significantly associated with outcome in patients who receive continuous treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. We evaluated the impact of CCI and BMI on responses, drug-related toxicities, and outcome in a cohort of 402 patients with myelofibrosis (MF) treated with ruxolitinib in 23 European Hematology Centers. Comorbidities were evaluable in all 402 patients. A higher (≥ 3) CCI did not correlate with a lower spleen reduction at any time (p = 0.68) or symptoms' response (p = 0.11), but influenced the onset of anemia during the first 3 months of treatment and later (p = 0.02 and p = 0.03, respectively) in patients without anemia baseline. BMI was evaluable in 380 patients and did not correlate with differences in spleen and symptoms response (p = 0.57 and p = 0.49, respectively). A higher CCI and a lower BMI correlated also with a reduced overall survival (p < 0.001 and p = 0.02, respectively). The achievement of a spleen response at 6 months could counterbalance the negative impact of comorbidities, while patients who were underweight when starting ruxolitinib and did not achieve a spleen response at 6 months were projected to the worse outcome. In MF patients treated with ruxolitinib, BMI and comorbidities did not influence the achievement of spleen/symptom responses, but they contributed to the early identification of patients who deserve a strict monitoring during treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-018-3569-1DOI Listing
April 2019

Ruxolitinib in elderly patients with myelofibrosis: impact of age and genotype. A multicentre study on 291 elderly patients.

Br J Haematol 2018 10 16;183(1):35-46. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

Division of Cellular Biotechnologies and Haematology, University Sapienza, Roma, Italy.

Ruxolitinib is a JAK1/2 inhibitor that may control myelofibrosis (MF)-related splenomegaly and symptoms and can be prescribed regardless of age. While aging is known to correlate with worse prognosis, no specific analysis is available to confirm that ruxolitinib is suitable for use in older populations. A clinical database was created in 23 European Haematology Centres and retrospective data on 291 MF patients treated with ruxolitinib when aged ≥65 years were analysed in order to assess the impact of age and molecular genotype on responses, toxicities and survival. Additional mutations were evaluated by a next generation sequencing (NGS) approach in 69 patients with available peripheral blood samples at the start of ruxolitinib treatment. Compared to older (age 65-74 years) patients, elderly (≥75 years) showed comparable responses to ruxolitinib, but higher rates of drug-induced anaemia and thrombocytopenia and worse survival. Nonetheless, the ruxolitinib discontinuation rate was comparable in the two age groups. Number and types of molecular abnormalities were comparable across age groups. However, the presence of high molecular risk (HMR) mutations significantly affected survival, counterbalancing the effect of aging. Indeed, elderly patients with <2 HMR mutated genes had a comparable survival to older patients with ≥2 HMR mutations. Given that responses were not influenced by age, older age per se should not be a limitation for ruxolitinib administration. NGS analysis of HMR mutations also confirmed a strong predictive value in elderly patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.15497DOI Listing
October 2018

Epidemiology, outcome, and risk factors for infectious complications in myelofibrosis patients receiving ruxolitinib: A multicenter study on 446 patients.

Hematol Oncol 2018 Apr 6. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

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

Infections represent one of the major concerns regarding the utilization of ruxolitinib (RUX) in patients with myelofibrosis. With the aim to investigate epidemiology, outcome and risk factors for infections in RUX-exposed patients, we collected clinical and laboratory data of 446 myelofibrosis patients treated with RUX between June 2011 and November 2016 in 23 European Hematology Centers. After a median RUX exposure of 23.5 months (range, 1-56), 123 patients (28%) experienced 161 infectious events (grades 3-4 32%, fatal 9%), for an incidence rate of 17 cases per 100 pts/y. The rate of infections tended to decrease over time: 14% of patients developed the first infection within 6 months, 5% between 6 and 12 months, 3.7% between 12 and 18 months, 3.4% between 18 and 24 months, and 7.9% thereafter (P < .0001). Respiratory tract infections were more frequently observed (81 events, 50%), and bacteria were the most frequent etiological agents (68.9%). However, also viral (14.9%) and fungal infections (2.5%) were observed. In multivariate analysis, previous infectious event (HR 2.54; 95% CI, 1.51-4.28; P = .0005) and high international prognostic score system category (IPSS) (HR 1.53; 95% CI, 1.07-2.20; P = .021) significantly correlated with higher infectious risk. On the contrary, spleen reduction ≥50% from baseline after 3 months of treatment (P = .02) was associated with better infection-free survival. Taken together, these findings reinforce the concept of disease severity as the most important risk factor for infections, and describe, for the first time, that a positive therapeutic effect in reducing splenomegaly may also reduce subsequent infectious complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2509DOI Listing
April 2018

Patient-reported outcomes enhance the survival prediction of traditional disease risk classifications: An international study in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.

Cancer 2018 03 12;124(6):1251-1259. Epub 2017 Dec 12.

Data Center and Health Outcomes Research Unit, Italian Group for Adult Hematologic Diseases (GIMEMA), Rome, Italy.

Background: Current prognostic systems for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are based on clinical, pathologic, and laboratory indicators. The objective of the current study was to develop a new patient-centered prognostic index for patients with advanced MDS by including self-reported fatigue severity into a well-established clinical risk classification: the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS).

Methods: A total of 469 patients with advanced (ie, IPSS intermediate-2 or high-risk) MDS were analyzed. Untreated patients (280 patients) were recruited into an international prospective cohort observational study to create the index. The index then was applied to an independent cohort including pretreated patients with MDS from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts (189 patients). At baseline, patients completed the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30).

Results: A new prognostic index was developed: the FA-IPSS(h), in which FA stands for fatigue and h for higher-risk. This new risk classification enabled the authors to distinguish 3 subgroups of patients with distinct survival outcomes (ie, risk-1, risk-2, and risk-3). Patients classified as FA-IPSS(h) risk-1 had a median overall survival (OS) of 23 months (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 19-29 months), whereas those with risk-2 had a median OS of 16 months (95% CI, 12-17 months) and those with risk-3 had a median OS of 10 months (95% CI, 4-13 months). The predictive accuracy of this new index was higher than that of the IPSS alone in both the development cohort as well as in the independent cohort including pretreated patients.

Conclusions: The FA-IPSS(h) is a novel patient-centered prognostic index that includes patients' self-reported fatigue severity. The authors believe its use might enhance physicians' ability to predict survival more accurately in patients with advanced MDS. Cancer 2018;124:1251-9. © 2017 American Cancer Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31193DOI Listing
March 2018

Baseline factors associated with response to ruxolitinib: an independent study on 408 patients with myelofibrosis.

Oncotarget 2017 Oct 27;8(45):79073-79086. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Division of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, University Sapienza, Roma, Italy.

In patients with Myelofibrosis (MF) treated with ruxolitinib (RUX), the response is unpredictable at therapy start. We retrospectively evaluated the impact of clinical/laboratory factors on responses in 408 patients treated with RUX according to prescribing obligations in 18 Italian Hematology Centers. At 6 months, 114 out of 327 (34.9%) evaluable patients achieved a spleen response. By multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression model, pre-treatment factors negatively correlating with spleen response were: high/intermediate-2 IPSS risk (=0.024), large splenomegaly (=0.017), transfusion dependency (=0.022), platelet count <200×10/l (=0.028), and a time-interval between MF diagnosis and RUX start >2 years (=0.048). Also, patients treated with higher (≥10 mg BID) average RUX doses in the first 12 weeks achieved higher response rates (=0.019). After adjustment for IPSS risk, patients in spleen response at 6 months showed only a trend for better survival compared to non-responders. At 6 months, symptoms response was achieved by 85.5% of 344 evaluable patients; only a higher (>20) Total Symptom Score significantly correlated with lower probability of response (<0.001). Increased disease severity, a delay in RUX start and titrated doses <10 mg BID were associated with patients achievinglower response rates. An early treatment and higher RUX doses may achieve better therapeutic results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18674DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5668021PMC
October 2017

Depletion of SIRT6 enzymatic activity increases acute myeloid leukemia cells' vulnerability to DNA-damaging agents.

Haematologica 2018 01 12;103(1):80-90. Epub 2017 Oct 12.

Chair of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine (DiMI), University of Genova, Italy

Genomic instability plays a pathological role in various malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and thus represents a potential therapeutic target. Recent studies demonstrate that SIRT6, a NAD-dependent nuclear deacetylase, functions as genome-guardian by preserving DNA integrity in different tumor cells. Here, we demonstrate that also CD34 blasts from AML patients show ongoing DNA damage and SIRT6 overexpression. Indeed, we identified a poor-prognostic subset of patients, with widespread instability, which relies on SIRT6 to compensate for DNA-replication stress. As a result, SIRT6 depletion compromises the ability of leukemia cells to repair DNA double-strand breaks that, in turn, increases their sensitivity to daunorubicin and Ara-C, both and In contrast, low SIRT6 levels observed in normal CD34 hematopoietic progenitors explain their weaker sensitivity to genotoxic stress. Intriguingly, we have identified DNA-PKcs and CtIP deacetylation as crucial for SIRT6-mediated DNA repair. Together, our data suggest that inactivation of SIRT6 in leukemia cells leads to disruption of DNA-repair mechanisms, genomic instability and aggressive AML. This synthetic lethal approach, enhancing DNA damage while concomitantly blocking repair responses, provides the rationale for the clinical evaluation of SIRT6 modulators in the treatment of leukemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2017.176248DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5777193PMC
January 2018

Deregulated expression of miR-29a-3p, miR-494-3p and miR-660-5p affects sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in CML leukemic stem cells.

Oncotarget 2017 Jul;8(30):49451-49469

Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

The development of Imatinib mesylate (IM), which targets the oncogenic BCR-ABL fusion protein, has greatly improved the outcome of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) patients. However, BCR-ABL-positive progenitors can be detected in CML patients in complete cytogenetic response. Several evidence suggests that CML stem cells are intrinsically resistant to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKI), and therefore they represent the most likely candidate responsible for disease relapse.In this work, we investigated the microRNA (miRNA) expression profile of different subpopulations of CML Leukemic Stem Cells (LSCs): Lin-CD34+CD38- and Lin-CD34-CD38- cells. These cell fractions have been previously shown to be endowed with TKI intrinsic resistance. Our analysis identified 33 common deregulated miRNAs in CML LSCs. Among those, 8 miRNAs were deregulated in CML independently from BCR-ABL kinase activity and therefore are likely to be involved in the BCR-ABL-independent resistance to TKI that characterizes CML LSCs. In particular, the up-regulation of miR-29a-3p and miR-660-5p observed in CML LSCs, led to the down-regulation of their respective targets TET2 and EPAS1 and conferred TKI-resistance to CML LSCs in vitro. On the other hand, miR-494-3p down-regulation in CML LSCs, leading to c-MYC up-regulation, was able to decrease TKI-induced apoptosis. These results demonstrate that aberrant miRNA expression in CML LSCs could contribute to the intrinsic TKI-resistance observed in these cell populations, and support the development of novel therapies aimed at targeting aberrantly regulated miRNAs or their targets in order to effectively eradicate CML LSCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17706DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5564781PMC
July 2017

Efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib in intermediate-1 IPSS risk myelofibrosis patients: Results from an independent study.

Hematol Oncol 2018 Feb 17;36(1):285-290. Epub 2017 May 17.

Department of Hematology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Patients with myelofibrosis at intermediate-1 risk according to the International Prognostic Score System are projected to a relatively long survival; nonetheless, they may carry significant splenomegaly and/or systemic constitutional symptoms that hamper quality of life and require treatment. Since registrative COMFORT studies included only patients at intermediate-2/high International Prognostic Score System risk, safety and efficacy data in intermediate-1 patients are limited. We report on 70 intermediate-1 patients treated with ruxolitinib according to standard clinical practice that were evaluated for response using the 2013 IWG-MRT criteria. At 6 months, rates of spleen and symptoms response were 54.7% and 80% in 64 and 65 evaluable patients, respectively. At 3 months, ruxolitinib-induced grade 3 anemia and thrombocytopenia occurred in 40.6% and 2.9% of evaluable patients, respectively. Notably, 11 (15.9%) patients experienced at least one infectious event ≥grade 2. Most (82.6%) patients were still on therapy after a median follow-up of 27 months. These data support the need for standardized guidelines that may guide the decision to initiate ruxolitinib therapy in this risk category, balancing benefit expectations and potential adverse effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2429DOI Listing
February 2018

Proposal for a tailored stratification at baseline and monitoring of cardiovascular effects during follow-up in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with nilotinib frontline.

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2016 Nov 15;107:190-198. Epub 2016 Oct 15.

Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Nilotinib was approved for chronic myeloid leukemia patients in chronic phase or accelerated phase after resistance to imatinib or as frontline treatment. The drug, as other tyrosine kinase inhibitor has a specific safety profile with possible occurring metabolic side effects, such as increased glycaemia and cholesterol level, that may result, in predisposed patients, in an increased rate of cardiac and vascular disorders. The objectives of this paper were to focus on the optimal procedures to perform at diagnosis in order to identify patients at risk of possible events and the correct monitoring procedures in order to prevent and manage metabolic and cardiovascular adverse events. Several national haematologist and cardiologist reviewed the literature, analysed levels of evidence for each topic and, after extensive discussions presented their proposals based on current international guidelines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.critrevonc.2016.10.002DOI Listing
November 2016

Health-related quality of life and burden of fatigue in patients with primary immune thrombocytopenia by phase of disease.

Am J Hematol 2016 Oct 14;91(10):995-1001. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, University of Rome "Sapienza", Rome, Italy.

The main objective of this study was to compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of primary immune thrombocytopenia (pITP) patients with that of general population, overall, and by patient group (i.e., newly diagnosed, persistent, and chronic patients). Fatigue was also investigated as a secondary objective. Overall, 424 adult patients were enrolled in a multicenter observational study and the control group consisted of a representative sample from the general population. Propensity score matching plus further multivariate linear regression adjustment was used to compare HRQOL outcomes between pITP patients and general population. Mean age of patients was 54 years. Of those with HRQOL assessment, 99 patients (23.6%) were newly diagnosed, 53 (12.6%) were persistent, and 268 (63.8%) were chronic pITP patients. Comparison by patient group versus their respective peers in the general population revealed greater impairments in persistent pITP patients. Persistent pITP patients reported clinically meaningful impairments in physical functioning (-15; 95% CI -24.1 to -5.8; P = 0.002), social functioning (-15.3; 95% CI -25.5 to -5.1; P = 0.004), role physical (-28.4; 95% CI -43.1 to -13.7; P < 0.001), role emotional (-23.9; 95% CI -40.1 to -7.7; P = 0.004), and mental health scales (-11.3; 95% CI -21.2 to -1.4; P = 0.026) of the SF-36 questionnaire. Higher fatigue severity was associated with lower physical and mental HRQOL outcomes. Our findings suggest that the burden of the disease and treatment might depend on the disease phase and that persistent pITP patients are the most vulnerable subgroup. Am. J. Hematol. 91:995-1001, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.24463DOI Listing
October 2016

Unbiased pro-thrombotic features at diagnosis in 977 thrombocythemic patients with Philadelphia-negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Leuk Res 2016 07 7;46:18-25. Epub 2016 Apr 7.

Hematology Dept., University Hospital, Firenze, Italy.

In patients with Philadelphia-negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), the anti-thrombotic and/or cytoreductive treatment in the follow-up may affect the evaluation of the pro-thrombotic weight of the clinical and biological characteristics at diagnosis. In order to avoid this potential confounding effect, we investigated the relationship between prior thrombosis (PrTh: thrombosis occurred before diagnosis and before treatment) and the characteristics at diagnosis in 977 thrombocythemic patients with MPN, reclassified according to the WHO 2008 criteria. PrTh occurred in 194 (19.9%) patients, with similar rates in the different MPNs. In multivariate analysis, PrTh rate was significantly related to minor thrombocytosis (platelets ≤700×10(9)/L), leukocytosis (leukocytes >10×10(9)/L), higher hematocrit (HCT >45%), JAK2 V617F mutation, older age, and cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs). The highest PrTh rate (33.9%) was associated with the coexistence of minor thrombocytosis and leukocytosis. Of note, the inverse relationship between PrTh rate and platelet count is consistent with the hemostatic paradox of thrombocytosis. In conclusion, this analysis in MPN patients disclosed the unbiased characteristics at diagnosis with a pro-thrombotic effect. Moreover, it suggests that the optimal control of blood cells counts, and CVRFs might be of utmost importance in the prevention of thrombosis during the follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2016.04.004DOI Listing
July 2016

APO866 Increases Antitumor Activity of Cyclosporin-A by Inducing Mitochondrial and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Leukemia Cells.

Clin Cancer Res 2015 Sep 11;21(17):3934-45. Epub 2015 May 11.

Department of Hematology and Oncology, IRCCS AOU S. Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy. Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Purpose: The nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) inhibitor, APO866, has been previously shown to have antileukemic activity in preclinical models, but its cytotoxicity in primary leukemia cells is frequently limited. The success of current antileukemic treatments is reduced by the occurrence of multidrug resistance, which, in turn, is mediated by membrane transport proteins, such as P-glycoprotein-1 (Pgp). Here, we evaluated the antileukemic effects of APO866 in combination with Pgp inhibitors and studied the mechanisms underlying the interaction between these two types of agents.

Experimental Design: The effects of APO866 with or without Pgp inhibitors were tested on the viability of leukemia cell lines, primary leukemia cells (AML, n = 6; B-CLL, n = 19), and healthy leukocytes. Intracellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)) and ATP levels, mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨ(m)), markers of apoptosis and of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress were evaluated.

Results: The combination of APO866 with Pgp inhibitors resulted in a synergistic cytotoxic effect in leukemia cells, while sparing normal CD34(+) progenitor cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Combining Pgp inhibitors with APO866 led to increased intracellular APO866 levels, compounded NAD(+) and ATP shortage, and induced ΔΨ(m) dissipation. Notably, APO866, Pgp inhibitors and, to a much higher extent, their combination induced ER stress and ER stress inhibition strongly reduced the activity of these treatments.

Conclusions: APO866 and Pgp inhibitors show a strong synergistic cooperation in leukemia cells, including acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) samples. Further evaluations of the combination of these agents in clinical setting should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-3023DOI Listing
September 2015

De novo AML patients with favourable-intermediate karyotype may benefit from the addition of low-dose gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) to fludarabine, Ara-C and idarubicin (FLAI): a contribution to the reopened "GO question".

Ann Hematol 2013 Oct 18;92(10):1309-18. Epub 2013 May 18.

Clinical Hematology, IRCCS AOU S. Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy.

We report the final results of a prospective trial testing the combination of fludarabine, Ara-C and idarubicin (FLAI) followed by low-dose gemtuzumab ozogamicin (FLAI-GO) in 85 patients aged 60 years or more with CD33+ acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Median age was 68 years (60-82); karyotype was unfavourable in 21 patients (24%), intermediate in 63 (74%) and favourable in 1 (2%). There were five therapy-related deaths. Of the 80 evaluable patients, 47 achieved complete response (CR) (58%); CR rates were 65 and 32% in good-intermediate/poor karyotype patients, respectively. Median length of CR was 7 months (3-76). The cumulative incidence of relapse was 84% with an actuarial survival of 50.3% at 1 year and 14.4% at 2 years. The study control population is an unselected consecutive historic cohort of 104 patients treated with the FLAI regimen, who were matched for age and prognostic factors. CR rates after FLAI-GO and FLAI were comparable. However, patients with de novo AML and intermediate-favourable karyotype receiving GO had a significantly lower risk of relapse at 2 years as compared to patients not receiving GO (n = 77) (40 vs 80%, p = 0.01) and significantly better disease-free survival (p = 0.018) and overall survival (p = 0.022).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-013-1780-7DOI Listing
October 2013