The OBR Blog

May 31, 2020 - 08:05 pm Posted in ASCO and ASH Posted in ASCO Conference Coverage Posted in Breast Posted in Lymphoma (includes NHL, HL, CNS Lymphoma) Posted in Melanoma (includes BCC) Posted in Multiple Myeloma comments0 Comments

Sunday’s live broadcast of the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting featured late-breaking data from a phase 3 trial evaluating early local therapy in metastatic breast cancer and the results of the phase 3 ENDURANCE trial.

Other important studies from the meeting were the ALPHA trial, which is evaluating an off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, and the C-144-01 trial, which is evaluating an autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy.

Early local therapy offers no survival benefit in patients with de novo metastatic breast cancer and an intact primary tumor, according to the results of a phase 3 trial by the ECOG-ACRIN Research Group (Abstract LBA2).

The trial included 256 patients who received optimal systemic therapy before being randomly assigned to either continue optimal systemic therapy (n=131) or receive optimal systemic therapy with locoregional therapy (n=125).

The 3-year overall survival (OS) rate was not different for the locoregional therapy arm compared with the optimal systemic therapy alone arm (68.4% vs 67.9%; P=0.63) and neither was the risk of death (HR=1.09; 90% CI, 0.80 – 1.49).

Although the locoregional therapy arm had a reduced risk of locoregional recurrences/progression compared with the optimal systemic therapy alone arm (HR=0.37; 95% CI, 0.19 – 0.73), no improvements were seen for health-related quality of life (HRQOL). At one timepoint (18 months), HRQOL was significantly worse for the locoregional therapy arm (P=0.001).

“For de novo stage metastatic breast cancer, existing data supports that locoregional therapy does not improve survival and should not be routinely applied in this population,” said study discussant Julia White, MD, professor of radiation oncology at The Ohio State University.

Carfilzomib and Bortezomib Tie for First

The replacement of carfilzomib for bortezomib in a regimen of bortezomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone (VRd) did not improve outcomes for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, results showed in the second interim analysis of the phase 3 ENDURANCE trial (Abstract LBA3).

Patients who received carfilzomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone (KRd; n=545) had a similar progression-free survival (PFS; HR=1.04; 95% CI, 0.8 – 1.3; P=0.74) and OS (HR=0.98; 95% CI, 0.71 – 1.36; P=0.92) to those who received VRd (n=542). A higher proportion of particularly good partial responses was seen with KRd compared with VRd (55.5% vs 49.9%).

KRd had a significantly higher rate of cardiac, pulmonary, and renal treatment-related adverse events (16.1% vs 4.8%; P<0.001), while VRd had a significantly higher rate of peripheral neuropathy (53.4% vs 24.4%; P<0.001). No difference in frequency of secondary primary cancers was seen.

Study discussant Jesus Berdeja, MD, director of myeloma research at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, pointed out that KRd costs nearly $16,000 more per cycle than VRd, which totals to a nearly $100,000-difference for 12 cycles.

“In newly diagnosed multiple myeloma without high-risk features, VRd and KRd appear to be equivalent options for frontline treatment,” Dr Berdeja said. “Comorbidities and toxicity profiles should guide the choice between the two regimens in any individual patient.”

ALPHA Trial Debuts Off-the-Shelf CAR T

An off-the-self allogeneic CAR T-cell therapy known as ALLO-501 appeared safe and showed clinical activity in a small group of patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell or follicular lymphoma, according to data from the single-arm phase 1 ALPHA trial (Abstract 8002).

“Allogeneic CAR T-cell therapy may provide the benefits of autologous CAR T-cell therapy, while also addressing its challenges,” said study presenter Sattva Neelapu, MD, MD Anderson Cancer Center. “It has the potential to treat all eligible patients, the convenience of repeat dosing, and simplifies the logistics of manufacturing.”

Patients received CD19-targeted ALLO-501 at one of three dose levels and, during lymphodepleting chemotherapy, an investigational monoclonal antibody called ALLO-647, which targets CD52. Patients were heavily pretreated (median of 4 prior therapies), and 4 patients previously received autologous CAR T-cell therapy.

About one-third of patients (7 of 22) had cytokine release syndrome, which included only one grade 3 event and no grade 4. Half of patients developed infection, most of which was grade 1 (23%) or 2 (18%). There were no reports of graft-versus-host disease.

At a median follow-up of 3.8 months, 12 of 19 patients (63%) available for efficacy analysis achieved a response, which included 7 complete responses (37%). Nine patients who achieved a response continue to have a response.

Dr. Neelapu said these results suggest that the safety and the short-term efficacy, in terms of the response rates, for this product is “comparable” to autologous CAR-T products that are currently in clinic. “Further follow-up is necessary to determine the durability of those responses.”

C-144-01 Trial Shows Potential of TILs

Autologous TIL therapy lifileucel appeared safe and to have clinical activity in patients with unresectable metastatic melanoma, according to the results of cohort 2 from the phase 2 C-144-01 trial (Abstract 10006).

Lifileucel is an autologous adoptive cell transfer therapy that involves surgically resecting a patient’s tumor and sending it to the manufacturing facility. Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are then obtained from the tumor, expanded, shipped back to clinical sites, and infused into the patient. Patients in cohort 2 (n=66) received lifileucel that was cryopreserved before shipment. Patients also received up to 6 doses of interleukin-2 after infusion to promote expansion of the TILs.

Most patients (97.0%) had grade 3 or 4 treatment-emergent adverse events, with thrombocytopenia (81.8%), anemia (56.1%), febrile neutropenia (54.5%), and neutropenia (39.4%) being the most common. The number of adverse events decreased over time.

Overall, 24 (36.4%) patients achieved a response, which included 2 complete and 22 partial responses. The disease control rate was 80.3%. At a median follow-up of 18.7 months, the median duration of response had not yet been reached (range, 2.2 – 26.9+ months). Responses were seen across subgroups, which include age, PD-L1 status, and BRAF mutation status.

“Notable, observed responses tended to deepen over time,” said study presenter Amod Sarnaik, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center. “These data therefore demonstrate potential efficacy and durability of response in a patient population with severely limited treatment options.”

By Christina Bennett, MS


One of biggest challenges in attending an annual ASCO meeting is time management. With over 2,000 abstracts submitted this year and a wide variety of new drugs and therapeutic targets, ASCO 2019 will be no different.

During a webinar last week sponsored by E-Squared Communications (a Conisus company), OBR and three renowned cancer experts helped identify some of the “high impact studies” that are sure to gain a lot of attention at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting. For those of you who missed this increasingly popular annual webinar, the experts not only covered the important data but also provided some suggestions on where to go if you happen to play hooky for a day at ASCO. Don Sharpe, President and Founder of OBR, moderated the session, and the primary areas of focus included cervical, prostate, pancreatic, breast, lung, and advanced gastric/gastroesophageal junction cancers as well as multiple myeloma and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Pending its final outcome, the first trial highlighted in the webinar could well be a practice-changing study. This phase 3 Intergroup trial (E3A06) in patients with asymptomatic intermediate- or high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma is the largest randomized trial in this setting to date. The 182 patients who participated in this study were randomized to either receive lenalidomide alone or observation, with progression-free survival (PFS) being the primary endpoint. At a median of 28 months of follow-up, the 3-year PFS rate in the lenalidomide arm seems to be numerically trending in the right direction (91% vs. 66%). This data will be highlighted in an oral abstract (8001) session on Sunday, June 2nd.

Following an interesting review of a phase 2 study highlighting the use of LN-145 tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in patients with cervical cancer, the next phase 3 study highlighted by the experts was a late-breaking abstract. This Australian and New Zealand Urogenital (ANZUP) Cooperative Group trial (ENZAMET) evaluated enzalutamide as first-line androgen-deprivation therapy for metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. The abstract LBA2 will be presented at the plenary session on Sunday, June 2nd and is sure to draw comparisons to the earlier LATITUDE study of abiraterone in this setting.

Pancreatic cancer seems to be climbing into the spotlight as well this year, as the OBR experts identified the Adjuvant Treatment in Pancreatic Cancer Study (APACT) as an important one to watch. This study evaluated nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine versus gemcitabine alone for patients with surgically resected pancreatic cancer. With 866 patients enrolled, this large clinical trial had a primary endpoint of disease-free survival; however, the authors noted that the overall survival (OS) results seen in this study may better support the rationale of using this combination in the adjuvant setting, especially for patients who are ineligible for FOLFIRINOX.

The PARP inhibitor olaparib was also discussed in the webinar as a potentially new therapeutic option for patients with pancreatic cancer. The phase 3 POLO trial of olaparib versus placebo as maintenance therapy in patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer whose disease had not progressed following first-line platinum-based chemotherapy will be highlighted during the plenary session on Sunday, June 2nd (LBA4). This study is the first positive phase 3 trial of any PARP inhibitor in germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Pembrolizumab was highlighted as well in two studies looking at gastric cancer and GEJ adenocarcinoma (KEYNOTE-062) and advanced HCC (KEYNOTE-240). In KEYNOTE-062, pembrolizumab met its primary endpoint by demonstrating OS noninferiority compared to chemotherapy in the intent-to-treat population. In KEYNOTE-240, pembrolizumab showed positive numerical trends but did not meet statistical significance for its co-primary endpoints of OS and PFS; however, it did show an improved response rate versus placebo (ORR 16.9% vs. 2.2%), and it will be interesting to see what impact this might have going forward.

Another important KEYNOTE study is KEYNOTE-189: Updated OS and progression after the next line of therapy (PFS2) with pembrolizumab (pembro) plus chemo with pemetrexed and platinum vs placebo plus chemo for metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC. KEYNOTE-001 is also a late-breaking abstract looking at 5-year long-term OS for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer treated with pembrolizumab.

There are certainly other important abstracts at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, but at the very least, this review should help narrow down your choices.

By Adrian Barfield, President, Medallion Healthcare

May 15, 2019 - 10:05 pm Posted in ASCO Conference Coverage Posted in Breast Posted in Multiple Myeloma Posted in Pediatric (includes Adolescents and Young Adults) comments0 Comments

In conjunction with the release of the abstracts for the upcoming 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting, a virtual press cast previewed five noteworthy studies that showcase the range of research that will be presented at the meeting.

Topics included the effect of a low-fat diet on breast cancer mortality, identification of a greater than expected number of targetable molecular alterationsin a pediatric MATCH trial, response of rare pediatric tumors with certain gene fusions to the targeted agent entrectinib, optimization of chemotherapy for frail and/or elderly patients with advanced esophageal cancer, and reduction of progression of smoldering to active multiple myeloma by lenalidomide.

Here are summaries of the key findings.

Low-Fat Diet Associated with Reduced Breast Cancer Mortality (Abstract 520)

Observational studies of the effect of dietary fat on breast cancer have produced equivocal results. To address this, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification (DM) trial, a randomized, controlled study looked at the influence of diet breast cancer incidence and mortality.

The WHI-DM trial (NCT00000611) enrolled 48,835 post-menopausal women age 50 to 79 years who were randomly assigned to dietary intervention (n=19,541) or usual diet (comparison group, n=29,294) from 1993 to 1998. Dietary intervention, which continued for 8.5 years, included reducing fat intake to 20% of calories and increasing intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains, similar to the DASH (dietary approaches to prevent hypertension) diet.

Trial endpoints included deaths from and after breast cancer. Cumulative follow-up data have been collected for a median of 19.6 years. Baseline fat intake was at least 32% of calories. Most women in the diet group increased daily intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains and reduced daily fat consumption to 25% of calories; most did not reach the 20% goal.

In the diet group versus the comparison group, there was a significantly lower risk of death from breast cancer (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.74, 0.96; P=.01) and from any cause after a diagnosis of breast cancer (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64, 0.96; P=.025).

The authors call this the only study providing randomized clinical trial evidence that an intervention can reduce a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer, although this analysis was not pre-specified in the original trial design, dietary components were assessed by participant recall, and there was no way to measure adherence to the diet.

At the meeting, the effect of the same dietary modification in a subgroup of women with poor metabolic function, defined as obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, or hypertension, will also be presented (Abstract 1539).

More Actionable Targets than Expected Found in Pediatric MATCH Trial (Abstract 10011)

The NCI-COG (Children’s Oncology Group) Pediatric MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice) trial was designed to address whether a precision oncology approach, i.e., treating tumors with agents selected to target specific genetic alterations, would be useful in the pediatric cancer setting.

NCI-COG Pediatric MATCH will enroll at least 1000 children with tumors that have not responded to standard treatment. The initial step is to screen tumors for potential targets, followed by treatment with therapy matched to alterations found in the tumors independent of tumor type. Treatment is in individual phase 2 clinical trials, of which there are currently 10, one for each current single-agent targeted therapy being tested.

There were 422 patients enrolled, from 93 of the 124 COG sites that had the study open, between July 24, 2017 and the data cutoff for this analysis at the end of last year. Tumor samples were received from 92% of enrolled patients and accounted for over 60 different tumor types including central nervous system (CNS) and non-CNS tumors. Turnaround time was 15 days from tumor receipt to treatment assignment.

Study researchers projected a match rate of 10% based on adult data. So far, 24% of screened patients with cancer that did not respond to treatment were eligible for treatment with a targeted agent. Of these, 39 patients (10%) have enrolled in a treatment trial. The trial is ongoing and is expected to add at least four additional single targeted agents. Combination therapies are being considered for future trials.

Rare Pediatric Tumors with Gene Fusions Respond to Entrectinib in Early Trial (Abstract 10009)

Fusions and alterations in intracellular signaling pathways such as TRKA/B/C, ROS1, and ALK genes act as drivers in some tumors by “locking” the pathways in the “on” position. Entrectinib is an oral inhibitor of these pathways and has the additional advantage of being able to cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the CNS.

Pediatric tumors with mutations in TRKA/B/C, ROS1, and ALK genes are rare, and are being identified more frequently as next-generation sequencing is becoming more common. STARTRK-NG (RXDX-101-03) is phase1/1b clinical trial investigating entrectinib in children with recurrent or refractory solid tumors with these gene alterations. Most had undergone prior surgery and radiation.

Of 29 patients enrolled, 16 were in the phase 1 dose-finding part; an additional 13 patients have been enrolled in the ongoing basket phase 1b part at a dose level of 550 mg/m2(initial recommended dose, n=7) or 400 mg/m2for those unable to swallow intact capsules. Diagnoses included primary CNS tumors (n=6), neuroblastoma (n=3), and extracranial solid tumors (n=4). Median patient age is 7 years.

Responses have been seen in all patients whose tumor had a target gene alteration and no responses were seen in patients whose tumors lacked aberrations in target kinases. Therefore, the trial will continue only for patients with target fusions. Presenter Giles W. Robinson, MD, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, said, “It gives me great pleasure as pediatric brain tumor doctor to show response in CNS tumors” that would otherwise probably have been fatal.

Dose-limiting toxicities included elevated creatinine, dysgeusia, fatigue, and pulmonary edema. Weight gain, problematic for some patients, also occurred as an on-target drug effect. Side effects have resulted in dose reduction to 400 mg/m2.

Dose-Modified Chemotherapy for Frail and/or Elderly Patients with Advanced Gastroesophageal Cancer (Abstract 4006)

Although the average age of patients at the time of diagnosis of advanced, inoperable gastroesophageal cancer is 75 years, and many patients are frail, standard of care chemotherapy has been developed in trials in patients with an average age of 65 years who are generally not frail. This study was motivated by the finding that a survey of oncologists in the UK used reduced dose chemotherapy regimens that were not evidence-based to treat frail and/or elderly patients with gastroesophageal cancer.

A prior phase 2 trial indicated that a 2-drug regimen was preferable to 3-drug or single agent regimens in this setting. The GO2 phase 3 trial was designed to optimize doses of 2-drug chemotherapy regimens and assess benefits and risks.

Patients (n=514) with a median age of about 76 years who were fit for chemotherapy but not for full-dose, 3-drug regimens were enrolled. There were 2 randomization schemes based on whether the patient was considered either certain or likely to benefit from chemotherapy and basic supportive care (BSC) was not appropriate (certain randomization), or would derive uncertain benefit from chemotherapy with BSC possibly appropriate (uncertain randomization). Presenter Peter S Hall, PhD, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, discussed the certain randomization option, where patients were randomly assigned to one of 3 dose levels of combinations of oxaliplatin plus capecitabine.

In addition to assessing progression-free survival (PFS), and a non-inferiority boundary agreed upon by a patient focus group and clinicians, the study also determined which dose level resulted in the best “overall treatment utility (OTU),” a novel concept developed in phase 2, which included cancer control, severity of side effects, patient quality of life (QoL), and oncologist’s assessment of benefit.

The lower doses of chemotherapy were non-inferior to the highest dose for median PFS (4.9 months for the highest dose, 4.1 months for the intermediate dose, and 4.3 months for the lowest dose), as well as for median overall survival (7.5 months, 6.7 months, and 7.6 months, respectively). The lowest dose was associated with the best OTU scores, as a result of fewer side effects and better quality of life (QoL).

Lenalidomide Reduces the Risk of Progression from Smoldering to Active Multiple Myeloma (Abstract 8001)

Smoldering or asymptomatic multiple myeloma (SMM) is a precursor to symptomatic MM. The goal of the phase 2/3 E3A06 trial was to determine if early intervention in intermediate or high risk SMM using low-intensity, single-agent lenalidomide could prevent progression to MM. The primary endpoint was time to develop MM.

In phase 2, the safety of 25 mg daily of lenalidomide for 3 out of every 4 weeks was determined. Phase 3 randomly assigned patients to the same dose of lenalidomide (n=90) or to observation (n=92). Prophylactic aspirin was administered with the lenalidomide.

Time to develop MM was delayed with the use of lenalidomide (2-year PFS probability 0.93; 95% CI, 0.88-0.99) compared with observation (2-year PFD probability 0.76; 95% CI 0.66-0.87). Treatment-related grade 3 and 4 hematologic and non-hematologic adverse events were observed with lenalidomide; 51% of patients in the phase 3 portion discontinued due to toxicity, although there was no difference in QoL reported between the 2 groups.

Three-year PFS was 91% in the lenalidomide group, compared with 66% in the observation group (HR 0.28, P=.0005). Follow-up is too short to determine the effect of treatment on overall survival. The investigators will follow patients who discontinued to see if limited doses of lenalidomide can delay progression of SMM to MM. This study shows early intervention, at least in patients with higher risk SMM, can prevent MM and its associated end organ damage.

By Lynne Lederman, PhD

PS – Don’t forget to sign up for our ASCO ’19 Preview webinar featuring Lee Schwartzberg, MD, Zev Wainberg, MD, and Rich Leff, MD. Register here.

As the ASH Annual Meeting concludes, the late-breaking abstracts are always of great interest. We take a brief look at one non-malignant hematology presentation that has implications for oncology, as well as three malignant hematology presentations on advances in targeted therapies for CLL and multiple myeloma.

Rivaroxaban Thromboprophylaxis in High-Risk Ambulatory Cancer Patients Receiving Systemic Therapy: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial (CASSINI) (LBA-1)—short summary of this one

Patients with cancer have a higher risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE), which can lead to death, morbidity, hospitalization, and delay in cancer treatment.

Alok A. Khorana, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, reported results of the CASSINI trial (NCT02555878), a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicenter study in adult ambulatory patients with various cancers initiating a new systemic regimen and at increased risk for VTE, defined as Khorana score ≥ 2 for a risk-adapted approach to prophylaxis.

Patients were randomly assigned to rivaroxaban, a direct oral anticoagulant (n=420), or to placebo (n=421) for 6 months. An important aspect of the trial was the use of ultrasonography of the lower extremity at baseline to identify pre-existing clots, which occurred in 4.5% of screened patients who were therefore not enrolled.

There was no significant difference between groups in the primary efficacy outcome of cumulative thromboembolic events; 38.7% of events occurred in patients who had discontinued treatment. For patients who remained on treatment, rivaroxaban significantly reduced events (2.62%) versus placebo (6.41%; P=.007), and significantly reduced a composite of the primary endpoint and all-cause mortality (P=.003).

There were no significant differences in safety outcomes between the groups for bleeding. A risk-benefit analysis showed that the number needed to treat (NNT) was 26 for patients who remained on treatment. The number needed to harm (NNH) was 101 for major bleeding and 135 for clinically relevant non-major bleeding for patients on treatment.

Dr. Khorana concluded that baseline screening for VTE could be considered for patients starting systemic cancer therapy. The findings of this study, along with a similar study that has just concluded, should inform future recommendations for thromboprophylaxis for higher-risk ambulatory patients with cancer.

Phase 3 Randomized Study of Daratumumab Plus Lenalidomide and Dexamethasone (D-Rd) Versus Lenalidomide and Dexamethasone (Rd) in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma (NDMM) Ineligible for Transplant (MAIA) (LBA-2)

Thierry Facon, Service des Maladies du Sang, Hôpital Claude Huriez, Lille, France, presented the pre-specified interim analysis of the MAIA study, a phase 3 trial evaluating daratumumab plus lenalidomide and low dose dexamethasone (D-Rd) versus Rd in patients with transplant-ineligible, newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. Daratumumab is a human, CD38-targeted, IgG1κ monoclonal antibody.

Patients were randomly assigned to D-Rd (n=368) or Rd (369); treatment continued until disease progression. Median age was 73 years, and notably, 44% of patients were age ≥75 years. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS).

At a median follow-up of 28 months there was a 44% reduction in risk of progression or death in the D-Rd group (71% at 30 months vs 56% for placebo; HR 0.56; 95% CI 0.43-0.73; P<.0001). Median PFS in the Rd group was 31.9 months and not reached in the D-Rd group. This benefit was seen across most sub-groups analyzed.

The overall response rate was 93% for D-Rd versus 81% for Rd (P<.0001); complete response rates and at least very good partial response rates were higher for D-Rd than for Rd. The minimal residual disease (MRD)-negative rate was significantly higher for D-Rd (24%) than for Rd (7%; P<.0001). Patients who were MRD negative had longer PFS. There is no difference between groups in overall survival (OS) at this follow-up time.

The safety profile was consistent with that seen for these combinations in other studies. Because of the inclusion of lenalidomide, the incidence of secondary primary malignancies (SPM) was determined; it was 3% for D-Rd and 4% for Rd; hematologic SPM occurred in 0.5% of each arm.

Dr. Facon concluded that the results of this study support D-Rd as a new standard of care for patients with transplant-ineligible newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.

A Randomized Phase III Study of Ibrutinib (PCI-32765)-Based Therapy Vs. Standard Fludarabine, Cyclophosphamide, and Rituximab (FCR) Chemoimmunotherapy in Untreated Younger Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL): A Trial of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (E1912) (LBA-4)

The E1912 (NCT02048813) trial showed that ibrutinib plus rituximab (IR) improves PFS and OS compared with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) in younger patients with previously untreated CLL. FCR has been the most active chemo-immunotherapy to date for CLL and has not been compared with ibrutinib as an initial treatment for younger patient with CLL.

Patients age ≤70 years (median age 58 years) with CLL were randomly assigned 2:1 to IR (n=354) or to 6 cycles of FCR (n=175). Patients in the IR group received 1 cycle ibrutinib, 6 cycles IR, then ibrutinib until disease progression.

At a median follow-up of about 3 years, PFS was significantly longer in the IR group (HR 0.35; 95% CI 0.22-0.5; P≤.00001), as was OS (HR 0.17; 95% CI .05-0.54; P≤.0003). Neutropenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and neutropenic fever occurred significantly less often with IR than FCR; atrial fibrillation and hypertension occurred significantly more often with IR than FCR. There were no significant difference in infection, bleeding, or diarrhea.

Presenter Tait D. Shanafelt, MD, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, concluded that these results establish IR as the most effective first-line therapy in patients age ≤70 years with CLL.

Acquisition of the Recurrent Gly101Val Mutation in BCL2 Confers Resistance to Venetoclax in Patients with Progressive Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (LBA-7)

Venetoclax, a selective BCL2 inhibitor induces deep and durable responses in CLL. However, most patients treated with venetoclax will eventually experience disease progression, and the mechanisms of resistance to venetoclax in patients are largely unknown.

This study looked at 67 patients with relapsed CLL; 21 had CLL-type progressions; of these, 15 had samples suitable for genomic analysis. A new mutation that was not present in pre-treatment samples, BCL2 Gly101Val, was detected in four patients using targeted amplicon sequencing. This is the first acquired BCL2 mutation described in patients with CLL treated with venetoclax. BCL2 Gly101Val occurs in the BH3-binding groove and has not been detected in other B-cell malignancies. BCL2 Gly101Val reduces the binding of venetoclax to BCL2 as much as 180-fold.

Piers Blombery, MBBS, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, said that they have detected BCL2 Gly101Val in patient samples months to years before relapse, and the mutation has subsequently been detected in three additional patients in the original group of 15 studied.

Cell lines overexpressing BCL2 Gly101Val are resistant to venetoclax and the mutation confers a growth advantage over wild-type cells in the presence of the drug.

Dr. Blombery pointed out that alternative resistance mechanisms can co-exist with BCL2 Gly101Val. These study results could provide a rationale for a limited time course for venetoclax.

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