Prolonged lymphocytosis during Ibrutinib therapy

The Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor ibrutinib has outstanding activity in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Most patients experience lymphocytosis, representing lymphocyte egress from nodal compartments.

This resolves within 8 months in the majority of patients, but a subgroup has lymphocytosis lasting >12 months. Here we report a detailed characterization of patients with persistent lymphocytosis during ibrutinib therapy. Signaling evaluation showed that while BTK is inhibited, downstream mediators of B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling are activated in persistent lymphocytes. These cells cannot be stimulated through the BCR and do not show evidence of target gene activation.

Progression-free survival is not inferior for patients with prolonged lymphocytosis vs those with traditional responses. Thus, prolonged lymphocytosis is common following ibrutinib treatment, likely represents the persistence of a quiescent clone, and does not predict a subgroup of patients likely to relapse early.

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Idelalisib and Rituximab in relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have clinically significant coexisting medical conditions are less able to undergo standard chemotherapy. Effective therapies with acceptable side-effect profiles are needed for this patient population.

The combination of idelalisib and rituximab, as compared with placebo and rituximab, significantly improved progression-free survival, response rate, and overall survival among patients with relapsed CLL who were less able to undergo chemotherapy. (Funded by Gilead; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01539512.).

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Hot on the ROR1 t(r)ail

ROR1 can interact with TCL1 and enhance leukemogenesis in Eμ-TCL1 transgenic mice.

Receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) is an oncoembryonic antigen found on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) B cells, but not on normal adult tissues. We generated transgenic (Tg) mice with human ROR1 regulated by the murine Ig promoter/enhancer. In contrast to nontransgenic littermates, such animals had B-cell-restricted expression of ROR1 and could develop clonal expansions of ROR1(bright)CD5(+)B220(low) B cells resembling human CLL at ≥ 15 mo of age. Because immune-precipitation and mass spectrometry studies revealed that ROR1 could complex with T-cell leukemia 1 (TCL1) in CLL, we crossed these animals with Eµ-TCL1-Tg (TCL1) mice. Progeny with both transgenes (ROR1 × TCL1) developed CD5(+)B220(low) B-cell lymphocytosis and leukemia at a significantly younger median age than did littermates with either transgene alone. ROR1 × TCL1 leukemia B cells had higher levels of phospho-AKT than TCL1 leukemia cells and expressed high levels of human ROR1, which we also found complexed with TCL1.

Transcriptome analyses revealed that ROR1 × TCL1 leukemia cells had higher expression of subnetworks implicated in embryonic and tumor-cell proliferation, but lower expression of subnetworks involved in cell-cell adhesion or cell death than did TCL1 leukemia cells. ROR1 × TCL1 leukemia cells also had higher proportions of Ki-67-positive cells, lower proportions of cells undergoing spontaneous apoptosis, and produced more aggressive disease upon adoptive transfer than TCL1 leukemia cells. However, treatment with an anti-ROR1 mAb resulted in ROR1 down-modulation, reduced phospho-AKT, and impaired engraftment of ROR1 × TCL1 leukemia cells. Our data demonstrate that ROR1 accelerates development/progression of leukemia and may be targeted for therapy of patients with CLL.

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Our New Newsletter is HOT off the Press!

We have our new newsletter is available!!  New news and articles letting you know the latest news in regards to CLL and the Blood Cancer Research Fund. Special thanks to Carolina Bump for her tireless efforts to get this information together!

Click here: Insight – BCRF Winter 2013 Newsletter 

Genentech and Pharmacyclics receive approval for drugs to treat hematologic malignancies

For the last couple years, the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center CLL program under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Kipps has been at the forefront of leading clinical trials for the use of ibrutinib (Imbruvica) and obinutuzumab (Gazyva) for patients with CLL.  We are happy to announce that both iburtinub and obinutuzumab have been approved for treatment.  Both drugs are considered “breakthrough therapies” under a program established by Congress last year.  The new Breakthrough Therapy Designation indicates that the medicines may offer substantial improvement over standard treatments for patients with serious or life-threatening diseases.  Both drugs demonstrate a shift  for treatments away from chemotherapy.

Gazyva is an antibody that binds to CD20 a protein found on the surface of B cells and causes the cells, which are cancerous to die.  It is the the first breakthrough monoclonal antibody drug to win FDA approval and will be used to treat patients with CLL who have not been previously treated.  It will be used in combination with chlorambucil to attack cancerous cells.  Patients who participated in the trial demonstrated a significant improvement in progression-free survival with an average of 23 months.  Gazyva is being approved with a boxed warning regarding Hepatitis B virus reactivation and a rare disorder that damages the material that covers and protects nerves in the white matter of the brain (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). These are known risks with other monoclonal antibodies in this class and rare cases were identified in participants on other trials of Gazyva. Patients should be advised of these risks and assessed for Hepatitis B virus and reactivation risk.

Imbruvica was approved for breakthrough treatment for relapses of mantle cell lymphoma and has also recently been applied for approval to treat CLL.  It is an oral treatment and its approval was based the response rates of 111 patients.  65 percent of patients who received Imbruvica had a complete or partial response.  Pharmacyclics officials said the label contained no black box warnings and no contraindications. Safety data during the drug’s pivotal trial showed the most common Grade 3 or 4 nonhematological adverse reactions (≥ 5 percent) included pneumonia, abdominal pain, atrial fibrillation, diarrhea, fatigue and skin infection

Ibrutinib Approved for treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma; Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is not far behind

The FDA approved the use of ibrutinib, now known as Imbruvica, for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma.  Ibrutinib is the second drug with ‘breakthrough therapy designation’ to receive FDA approval.  This effort is appaluded and supported by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  We are also proud to mention that the program is lead by former BCRF fellow, Danelle James, MD, MS. (Medical Director for Pharmacyclics)

Raising the Bar

Have you seen the new Jacob’s Medical Center building being built just across from the Moores Cancer Center? To read more about the project and the incredible commitment to creating a healthier world, CLICK HERE!

The $839 million facility is part of a multi-billion dollar university investment in the future of health care for the entire region. It will allow UC San Diego Health System to fulfill its potential of becoming one of the country’s premier academic health systems.

Thomas Kipps One of Four Recipients of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Award

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has awarded Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with a 5-year, $6.25 million Specialized Center of Research program grant to support research on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adult leukemia in the United States.  Read More…

Monoclonal Antibodies Could Add Power to CLL Treatment

Andrew Schorr from Patient Power in partnership with the CLL Global Research Foundation interview Dr. Thomas Kipps, Director of the Blood Cancer Research Fund and the CLL Research Consortium about the use of rituximab, a monoclonal antibody used to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Clink here to watch the video now!