Publications by authors named "Sara Aquino"

10 Publications

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Amino acid depletion triggered by ʟ-asparaginase sensitizes MM cells to carfilzomib by inducing mitochondria ROS-mediated cell death.

Blood Adv 2020 09;4(18):4312-4326

Clinic of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.

Metabolic reprogramming is emerging as a cancer vulnerability that could be therapeutically exploitable using different approaches, including amino acid depletion for those tumors that rely on exogenous amino acids for their maintenance. ʟ-Asparaginase (ASNase) has contributed to a significant improvement in acute lymphoblastic leukemia outcomes; however, toxicity and resistance limit its clinical use in other tumors. Here, we report that, in multiple myeloma (MM) cells, the DNA methylation status is significantly associated with reduced expression of ASNase-related gene signatures, thus suggesting ASNase sensitivity for this tumor. Therefore, we tested the effects of ASNase purified from Erwinia chrysanthemi (Erw-ASNase), combined with the next-generation proteasome inhibitor (PI) carfilzomib. We observed an impressive synergistic effect on MM cells, whereas normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells were not affected. Importantly, this effect was associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, compounded mitochondrial damage, and Nrf2 upregulation, regardless of the c-Myc oncogenic-specific program. Furthermore, the cotreatment resulted in genomic instability and DNA repair mechanism impairment via increased mitochondrial oxidative stress, which further enhanced its antitumor activity. Interestingly, carfilzomib-resistant cells were found to be highly dependent on amino acid starvation, as reflected by their higher sensitivity to Erw-ASNase treatment compared with isogenic cells. Overall, by affecting several cellular programs, Erw-ASNase makes MM cells more vulnerable to carfilzomib, providing proof of concept for clinical use of this combination as a novel strategy to enhance PI sensitivity in MM patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020001639DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7509874PMC
September 2020

Autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation versus bortezomib-melphalan-prednisone, with or without bortezomib-lenalidomide-dexamethasone consolidation therapy, and lenalidomide maintenance for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (EMN02/HO95): a multicentre, randomised, open-label, phase 3 study.

Lancet Haematol 2020 Jun 30;7(6):e456-e468. Epub 2020 Apr 30.

Department of Hematology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Background: The emergence of highly active novel agents has led some to question the role of autologous haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) and subsequent consolidation therapy in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. We therefore compared autologous HSCT with bortezomib-melphalan-prednisone (VMP) as intensification therapy, and bortezomib-lenalidomide-dexamethasone (VRD) consolidation therapy with no consolidation.

Methods: In this randomised, open-label, phase 3 study we recruited previously untreated patients with multiple myeloma at 172 academic and community practice centres of the European Myeloma Network. Eligible patients were aged 18-65 years, had symptomatic multiple myeloma stage 1-3 according to the International Staging System (ISS), measurable disease (serum M protein >10 g/L or urine M protein >200 mg in 24 h or abnormal free light chain [FLC] ratio with involved FLC >100 mg/L, or proven plasmacytoma by biopsy), and WHO performance status grade 0-2 (grade 3 was allowed if secondary to myeloma). Patients were first randomly assigned (1:1) to receive either four 42-day cycles of bortezomib (1·3 mg/m administered intravenously or subcutaneously on days 1, 4, 8, 11, 22, 25, 29, and 32) combined with melphalan (9 mg/m administered orally on days 1-4) and prednisone (60 mg/m administered orally on days 1-4) or autologous HSCT after high-dose melphalan (200 mg/m), stratified by site and ISS disease stage. In centres with a double HSCT policy, the first randomisation (1:1:1) was to VMP or single or double HSCT. Afterwards, a second randomisation assigned patients to receive two 28-day cycles of consolidation therapy with bortezomib (1·3 mg/m either intravenously or subcutaneously on days 1, 4, 8, and 11), lenalidomide (25 mg orally on days 1-21), and dexamethasone (20 mg orally on days 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 12) or no consolidation; both groups received lenalidomide maintenance therapy (10 mg orally on days 1-21 of a 28-day cycle). The primary outcomes were progression-free survival from the first and second randomisations, analysed in the intention-to-treat population, which included all patients who underwent each randomisation. All patients who received at least one dose of study drugs were included in the safety analyses. This study is registered with the EU Clinical Trials Register (EudraCT 2009-017903-28) and ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01208766), and has completed recruitment.

Findings: Between Feb 25, 2011, and April 3, 2014, 1503 patients were enrolled. 1197 patients were eligible for the first randomisation, of whom 702 were assigned to autologous HSCT and 495 to VMP; 877 patients who were eligible for the first randomisation underwent the second randomisation to VRD consolidation (n=449) or no consolidation (n=428). The data cutoff date for the current analysis was Nov 26, 2018. At a median follow-up of 60·3 months (IQR 52·2-67·6), median progression-free survival was significantly improved with autologous HSCT compared with VMP (56·7 months [95% CI 49·3-64·5] vs 41·9 months [37·5-46·9]; hazard ratio [HR] 0·73, 0·62-0·85; p=0·0001). For the second randomisation, the number of events of progression or death at data cutoff was lower than that preplanned for the final analysis; therefore, the results from the second protocol-specified interim analysis, when 66% of events were reached, are reported (data cutoff Jan 18, 2018). At a median follow-up of 42·1 months (IQR 32·3-49·2), consolidation therapy with VRD significantly improved median progression-free survival compared with no consolidation (58·9 months [54·0-not estimable] vs 45·5 months [39·5-58·4]; HR 0·77, 0·63-0·95; p=0·014). The most common grade ≥3 adverse events in the autologous HSCT group compared to the VMP group included neutropenia (513 [79%] of 652 patients vs 137 [29%] of 472 patients), thrombocytopenia (541 [83%] vs 74 [16%]), gastrointestinal disorders (80 [12%] vs 25 [5%]), and infections (192 [30%] vs 18 [4%]). 239 (34%) of 702 patients in the autologous HSCT group and 135 (27%) of 495 in the VMP group had at least one serious adverse event. Infection was the most common serious adverse event in each of the treatment groups (206 [56%] of 368 and 70 [37%] of 189). 38 (12%) of 311 deaths from first randomisation were likely to be treatment related: 26 (68%) in the autologous HSCT group and 12 (32%) in the VMP group, most frequently due to infections (eight [21%]), cardiac events (six [16%]), and second primary malignancies (20 [53%]).

Interpretation: This study supports the use of autologous HSCT as intensification therapy and the use of consolidation therapy in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, even in the era of novel agents. The role of high-dose chemotherapy needs to be reassessed in future studies, in particular in patients with undetectable minimal residual disease after four-drug induction regimens including a monoclonal antiboby combined with an immunomodulatory agent and a proteasome inhibitor plus dexamethasone.

Funding: Janssen and Celgene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(20)30099-5DOI Listing
June 2020

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

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

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

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

Impact of HLA Disparity in Haploidentical Bone Marrow Transplantation Followed by High-Dose Cyclophosphamide.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2018 01 9;24(1):119-126. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

U.O. Ematologia, Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Genova, Italy.

We studied the impact of HLA mismatching on the outcome of 318 consecutive patients who received an unmanipulated haploidentical bone marrow transplant, followed by post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy). The number of HLA-mismatched antigens was tested for its impact on overall survival (OS) and nonrelapse mortality (NRM), whereas HLA mismatches in the graft-versus-host (GVH) direction were tested for prediction of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD and relapse. Finally, we studied whether graft rejection correlated with the number of HLA mismatched antigens in host-versus-graft (HVG) direction. Two hundred thirty-one donor-recipient pairs (72%) had 4/8 mismatches at the -A, -B, -C, -DRB1 HLA loci. HLA mismatches did not predict the 2-year OS (hazard ratio, .83; P = .58) and NRM (subhazard ratio, 1.08; P = .93). The cumulative incidence of acute GVHD (P = .13), 1-year chronic GVHD (P = .84), and relapse rate (P = .26) did not correlate with univectorial GVH mismatches. Similarly, no correlation was observed between the amount of HLA mismatch in the HVG direction and graft rejection. In multivariate analysis advanced disease at transplant was the strongest predictor of survival, NRM, relapse, and graft rejection. In conclusion, the degree of HLA mismatching should not be used as a criterion to select family haploidentical donors when using bone marrow as stem cell source and PTCy for GVHD prophylaxis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2017.10.002DOI Listing
January 2018

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

WT1 overexpression at diagnosis may predict favorable outcome in patients with de novo non-M3 acute myeloid leukemia.

Leuk Lymphoma 2011 Oct;52(10):1961-9

Department of Hematology and Oncology, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino, Genova, Italy.

We reviewed the frequency and prognostic significance of FLT3 (fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor-3) and NPM (nucleophosmin) gene mutations and WT1 (Wilms' tumor) and BAALC (brain and acute leukemia, cytoplasmic) gene expression in 100 consecutive patients with intermediate and poor cytogenetic risk de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML) receiving conventional anthracycline-AraC based therapy. We observed a strict relationship between unfavorable karyotype and BAALC >1000 (p = 0.0001). Multivariate analysis of 81 patients with intermediate karyotype revealed that younger age (p = 0.00009), NPM gene mutation (p = 0.002), and WT1 >75th percentile (>2365) (p = 0.003) were independent, positive factors for complete remission (CR). WT1 expression above 2365 was correlated also to longer event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) in the same subset of patients (p = 0.003 and p = 0.02, respectively); the same finding occurred in younger patients with AML with intermediate karyotype (p = 0.008 and p = 0.01, respectively). In patients with intermediate karyotype, FLT3 internal tandem duplication (ITD) negatively affected EFS (EFS at 30 months: 30% vs. 6% in FLT3-ITD negative and FLT3 positive patients, respectively; p = 0.01) and OS (OS at 30 months: 38% vs. 20%, p = 0.03). The positive prognostic value of high WT1 expression does not have a clear explanation; it may be implicated either with WT1 anti-oncogenic function, or with the stimulating effect of WT1 oncogene on the leukemic cellular cycle, possibly associated with an enhanced response to chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/10428194.2011.585673DOI Listing
October 2011

Therapy of Hodgkin's lymphoma in clinical practice: A retrospective long-term follow-up analysis.

Oncol Lett 2011 Mar 21;2(2):289-295. Epub 2011 Jan 21.

Department of Haematology and Oncology, University of Genoa, St. Martino Hospital, Genoa.

Treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) is perceived to be relatively straightforward. Consequently, patients are not usually referred to hemato-oncologically specialized centres and are treated locally instead. Comprehensive findings beyond prospective controlled trials are therefore lacking. Clinical data of 209 patients who had received a HL diagnosis were collected. A total of 7 patients received radiotherapy (RT) alone (3%), 75 (35%) were treated with a combination of chemotherapy (CT) and RT and 127 patients received CT alone [mainly doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine (ABVD)]. Complete response (CR) following first-line treatment was achieved in 178 patients (85%) and in 195 (93%) after salvage treatment. Favorable disease (p=0.000359), limited-stage disease (p=0.0003), involvement of lymph nodes above the diaphragm (p=0.05) and absence of mediastinal bulky tumor involvement positively affected the CR rate following first-line treatment. Out of the 195 patients that achieved CR, 31 relapsed. Male gender (p=0.043) and age over 45 years (p=0.047) were significantly associated with an increased incidence of relapse. Age at diagnosis was the key factor affecting long-term outcome. The event-free survival (EFS) projected at 120 months was 80 and 57% for patients younger and older than 45 years, respectively (p=0.022). The overall survival (OS) projected at 120 months was 92 and 38% for patients younger and older than 45 years, respectively (p=0.00561). A second neoplasia was diagnosed in 8 patients. The development of a tumor in 4 cases (breast, lung and thyroid cancer) was likely RT-related. Only 1 patient not receiving RT developed acute myeloid leukemia. The EFS and OS of the 141 early-stage patients treated with CT + RT (n=62) or with CT alone (n=79) were not statistically different.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2011.255DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410564PMC
March 2011

Seventeen years of experience with ATRA-based therapy for acute promyelocytic leukaemia: long-term follow-up of patients treated at S. Martino Hospital, Genoa.

Oncol Rep 2009 Apr;21(4):1045-52

Department of Haematology, University of Genoa, 16132 Genoa, Italy.

We conducted a long-term follow-up retrospective study on 91 consecutive newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) patients. Induction and consolidation therapy were well-tolerated by most patients. Of the 79 patients who were initially treated with the all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)-containing regimens, there were 3 haemorrhagic deaths during the first period of therapy (4%) and one in consolidation which was due to infection. Following consolidation, molecular assessment of response was performed on 67 patients, and 66 were found to have achieved cytogenetic and molecular remission (98%). After a median follow-up of 100 months (12-192), 10 of the 75 patients who achieved complete remission (13%) relapsed. Seventy-eight percent of the patients were expected to be alive at 14 years from diagnosis, i.e., 90 and 48% of patients of intermediate-low risk and high risk at presentation, respectively (p=0.0009). Sixty-nine patients were in molecular remission after first-line and/or salvage therapy (74%). To date, 4 patients out of the 91 have undergone salvage allogeneic transplant (4%).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/or_00000322DOI Listing
April 2009

The addition of radiotherapy to chemotherapy does not improve outcome of early stage Hodgkin's lymphoma patients: a retrospective long-term follow-up analysis of a regional Italian experience.

Ann Hematol 2009 Sep 3;88(9):855-61. Epub 2009 Feb 3.

Department of Haematology and Oncology, University of Genova, San Martino Hospital, Viale Benedetto XV, N 6, Genova, Italy.

We retrospectively reviewed 139 stage I-II HL patients who were diagnosed and followed up in an Italian northern region (Liguria) from 1995 to 2007, and who received either chemotherapy (CT) alone (mainly doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine; ABVD) or a combined modality treatment (chemotherapy + radiotherapy, CT + RT). The two therapeutic groups were comparable for clinical and histologic features. Complete remission rate after CT + RT was higher than what was achieved with CT alone (96% vs. 84%, respectively, p = 0.03). Relapse rate (12%) was the same in both groups and disease-free survival curves were comparable (82% and 83%, p = 0.47). The overall survival of the two therapeutic groups is comparable. No second tumors have been reported among patients receiving chemotherapy alone, whereas a second neoplasia has been diagnosed in four patients (in two cases possibly radiotherapy related) in the CT + RT group (5%, p = 0.09) In conclusion, our retrospective study shows that CT + limited RT is an effective and well-tolerated option for early stage Hodgkin's lymphoma, even if the use of RT is associated with a certain risk of developing a second tumor. However, four to six courses of ABVD can lead to similar, optimal, long-term disease control without exposing patients to the risk of a second neoplasia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-009-0699-5DOI Listing
September 2009