Leukemia-cell proliferation and disease progression in patients with early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Abstract

The clinical course of patients with recently diagnosed early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is highly variable. We examined the relationship between CLL-cell birth rate and treatment-free survival (TFS) in 97 patients with recently diagnosed, Rai stage 0-II CLL in a blinded, prospective study, using in vivo 2H2O labeling. Birth rates ranged from 0.07-1.31% new cells per day. With median follow-up of 4.0 years, 33 subjects (34%) required treatment by NCI criteria. High birth rate was observed in 44% of subjects and was significantly associated with shorter TFS, unmutated IGHV status, and expression of ZAP70 and of CD38. In multivariable modeling considering age, gender, Rai stage, expression of ZAP70 or CD38, IGHV mutation status and FISH cytogenetics, only CLL-cell birth rate and IGHV mutation status met criteria for inclusion. Hazard ratios were 3.51 (P=0.002) for high birth rate and 4.93 (P<0.001) for unmutated IGHV. The association between elevated birth rate and shorter TFS was observed in subjects with either mutated or unmutated IGHVs, and the use of both markers was a better predictor of TFS than either parameter alone. Thus, an increased CLL birth rate in early stage disease is a strong predictor of disease progression and earlier treatment.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 24 January 2017. doi:10.1038/leu.2017.34.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28115735

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Abstract

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a malignancy of CD5+ B cells that is characterized by the accumulation of small, mature-appearing lymphocytes in the blood, marrow and lymphoid tissues. Signalling via surface immunoglobulin, which constitutes the major part of the B cell receptor, and several genetic alterations play a part in CLL pathogenesis, in addition to interactions between CLL cells and other cell types, such as stromal cells, T cells and nurse-like cells in the lymph nodes. The clinical progression of CLL is heterogeneous and ranges from patients who require treatment soon after diagnosis to others who do not require therapy for many years, if at all. Several factors, including the immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable region gene (IGHV) mutational status, genomic changes, patient age and the presence of comorbidities, should be considered when defining the optimal management strategies, which include chemotherapy, chemoimmunotherapy and/or drugs targeting B cell receptor signalling or inhibitors of apoptosis, such as BCL-2. Research on the biology of CLL has profoundly enhanced our ability to identify patients who are at higher risk for disease progression and our capacity to treat patients with drugs that selectively target distinctive phenotypic or physiological features of CLL. How these and other advances have shaped our current understanding and treatment of patients with CLL is the subject of this Primer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28102226

Phase I First-in-Human Study of Venetoclax in Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Abstract

Purpose B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) overexpression is common in many non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes. A phase I trial in patients with NHL was conducted to determine safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of venetoclax, a selective, potent, orally bioavailable BCL-2 inhibitor. Patients and Methods A total of 106 patients with relapsed or refractory NHL received venetoclax once daily until progressive disease or unacceptable toxicity at target doses from 200 to 1,200 mg in dose-escalation and safety expansion cohorts. Treatment commenced with a 3-week dose ramp-up period for most patients in dose-escalation cohorts and for all patients in safety expansion. Results NHL subtypes included mantle cell lymphoma (MCL; n = 28), follicular lymphoma (FL; n = 29), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL; n = 34), DLBCL arising from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (Richter transformation; n = 7), Waldenström macroglobulinemia (n = 4), and marginal zone lymphoma (n = 3). Venetoclax was generally well tolerated. Clinical tumor lysis syndrome was not observed, whereas laboratory tumor lysis syndrome was documented in three patients. Treatment-emergent adverse events were reported in 103 patients (97%), a majority of which were grade 1 to 2 in severity. Grade 3 to 4 events were reported in 59 patients (56%), and the most common were hematologic, including anemia (15%), neutropenia (11%), and thrombocytopenia (9%). Overall response rate was 44% (MCL, 75%; FL, 38%; DLBCL, 18%). Estimated median progression-free survival was 6 months (MCL, 14 months; FL, 11 months; DLBCL, 1 month). Conclusion Selective targeting of BCL-2 with venetoclax was well tolerated, and single-agent activity varied among NHL subtypes. We determined 1,200 mg to be the recommended single-agent dose for future studies in FL and DLBCL, with 800 mg being sufficient to consistently achieve durable response in MCL. Additional investigations including combination therapy to augment response rates and durability are ongoing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28095146

Venetoclax plus rituximab in relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: a phase 1b study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Selective BCL2 inhibition with venetoclax has substantial activity in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Combination therapy with rituximab enhanced activity in preclinical models. The aim of this study was to assess the safety, pharmacokinetics, and activity of venetoclax in combination with rituximab.

METHODS:

Adult patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (according to the 2008 Modified International Workshop on CLL guidelines) or small lymphocytic lymphoma were eligible for this phase 1b, dose-escalation trial. The primary outcomes were to assess the safety profile, to determine the maximum tolerated dose, and to establish the recommended phase 2 dose of venetoclax when given in combination with rituximab. Secondary outcomes were to assess the pharmacokinetic profile and analyse efficacy, including overall response, duration of response, and time to tumour progression. Minimal residual disease was a protocol-specified exploratory objective. Central review of the endpoints was not done. Venetoclax was dosed daily using a stepwise escalation to target doses (200-600 mg) and then monthly rituximab commenced (375 mg/m2 in month 1 and 500 mg/m2 in months 2-6). Adverse events were graded according to the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for adverse events version 4.0. Protocol-guided drug cessation was allowed for patients who achieved complete response (including complete response with incomplete marrow recovery) or negative bone marrow minimal residual disease. Analyses were done per protocol for all patients who commenced drug and included all patients who received at least one dose of venetoclax. Data were pooled across dose cohorts. Patients are still receiving therapy and follow-up is ongoing. The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01682616.

FINDINGS:

Between Aug 6, 2012, and May 28, 2014, we enrolled 49 patients. Common grade 1-2 toxicities included upper respiratory tract infections (in 28 [57%] of 49 patients), diarrhoea (27 [55%]), and nausea (25 [51%]). Grade 3-4 adverse events occurred in 37 (76%) of 49 patients; most common were neutropenia (26 [53%]), thrombocytopenia (eight [16%]), anaemia (seven [14%]), febrile neutropenia (six [12%]), and leucopenia (six [12%]). The most common serious adverse events were pyrexia (six [12%]), febrile neutropenia (five [10%]), lower respiratory tract infection, and pneumonia (each three [6%]). Clinical tumour lysis syndrome occurred in two patients (resulting in one death) who initiated venetoclax at 50 mg. After enhancing tumour lysis syndrome prophylaxis measures and commencing venetoclax at 20 mg, clinical tumour lysis syndrome did not occur. The maximum tolerated dose was not identified; the recommended phase 2 dose of venetoclax in combination with rituximab was 400 mg. Overall, 42 (86%) of 49 patients achieved a response, including a complete response in 25 (51%) of 49 patients. 2 year estimates for progression-free survival and ongoing response were 82% (95% CI 66-91) and 89% (95% CI 72-96), respectively. Negative marrow minimal residual disease was attained in 20 (80%) of 25 complete responders and 28 (57%) of 49 patients overall. 13 responders ceased all therapy; among these all 11 minimal residual disease-negative responders remain progression-free off therapy. Two with minimal residual disease-positive complete response progressed after 24 months off therapy and re-attained response after re-initiation of venetoclax.

INTERPRETATION:

A substantial proportion of patients achieved an overall response with the combination of venetoclax and rituximab including 25 (51%) of 49 patients who achieved a complete response and 28 (57%) of 49 patients who achieved negative marrow minimal residual disease with acceptable safety. The depth and durability of responses observed with the combination offers an attractive potential treatment option for patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and could allow some patients to maintain response after discontinuing therapy, a strategy that warrants further investigation in randomised studies.

FUNDING:

AbbVie Inc and Genentech Inc.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28089635

Cirmtuzumab inhibits Wnt5a-induced Rac1 activation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia treated with ibrutinib.

Abstract

Signaling via the B cell receptor (BCR) plays an important role in the pathogenesis and progression of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This is underscored by the clinical effectiveness of ibrutinib, an inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) that can block BCR-signaling. However, ibrutinib cannot induce complete responses (CR) or durable remissions without continued therapy, suggesting alternative pathways also contribute to CLL growth/survival that are independent of BCR-signaling. ROR1 is a receptor for Wnt5a, which can promote activation of Rac1 to enhance CLL-cell proliferation and survival. In this study, we found that CLL cells of patients treated with ibrutinib had activated Rac1. Moreover, Wnt5a could induce Rac1 activation and enhance proliferation of CLL cells treated with ibrutinib at concentrations that were effective in completely inhibiting BTK and BCR-signaling. Wnt5a-induced Rac1 activation could be blocked by cirmtuzumab (UC-961), an anti-ROR1 mAb. We found that treatment with cirmtuzumab and ibrutinib was significantly more effective than treatment with either agent alone in clearing leukemia cells in vivo. This study indicates that cirmtuzumab may enhance the activity of ibrutinib in the treatment of patients with CLL or other ROR1+ B-cell malignancies.Leukemia advance online publication, 3 January 2017; doi:10.1038/leu.2016.368.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27904138

EGR2 mutations define a new clinically aggressive subgroup of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Abstract

Recurrent mutations within EGR2 were recently reported in advanced-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients and associated with a worse outcome. To study their prognostic impact, 2403 CLL patients were examined for mutations in the EGR2 hotspot region including a screening (n=1283) and two validation cohorts (UK CLL4 trial patients, n=366; CLL Research Consortium (CRC) patients, n=490). Targeted deep-sequencing of 27 known/postulated CLL driver genes was also performed in 38 EGR2-mutated patients to assess concurrent mutations. EGR2 mutations were detected in 91/2403 (3.8%) investigated cases, and associated with younger age at diagnosis, advanced clinical stage, high CD38 expression and unmutated IGHV genes. EGR2-mutated patients frequently carried ATM lesions (42%), TP53 aberrations (18%) and NOTCH1/FBXW7 mutations (16%). EGR2 mutations independently predicted shorter time-to-first-treatment (TTFT) and overall survival (OS) in the screening cohort; they were confirmed associated with reduced TTFT and OS in the CRC cohort and independently predicted short OS from randomization in the UK CLL4 cohort. A particularly dismal outcome was observed among EGR2-mutated patients who also carried TP53 aberrations. In summary, EGR2 mutations were independently associated with an unfavorable prognosis, comparable to CLL patients carrying TP53 aberrations, suggesting that EGR2-mutated patients represent a new patient subgroup with very poor outcome.Leukemia advance online publication, 3 January 2017; doi:10.1038/leu.2016.359.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27890934