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Adding the immunotherapy drug blinatumomab to standard front-line consolidation chemotherapy keeps most patients in remission and improves their survival
Late-breaking research at the 64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in December revealed a major treatment advance for adults with newly diagnosed B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The randomized phase 3 study E1910 evaluated blinatumomab immunotherapy in patients with a good prognosis after an initial round of chemotherapy. After about 3.5 years of follow-up, 83% of the patients who went on to receive additional standard consolidation chemotherapy plus experimental blinatumomab were alive versus 65% of those who received chemotherapy only.
"The addition of blinatumomab to consolidation chemotherapy represents a new standard of care for patients with newly diagnosed B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia, who are in remission and have no measurable residual disease after induction chemotherapy," said lead researcher Mark R. Litzow, MD (Mayo Clinic), pictured.
Dr. Litzow was the first of only six presenters of late-breaking abstracts at this meeting and was part of the official press program.
Current treatments for newly-diagnosed ALL frequently lead to remission. Still, unfortunately, relapses often occur in patients, leading to poor survival rates even in those with no measurable residual disease (MRD) after induction chemotherapy. An MRD test looks for any cancer cells that were not killed by cancer treatments.
"This is the first randomized trial to demonstrate that we are able to improve the survival of ALL patients who are in complete remission, including by sensitive MRD testing,” said Selina M. Luger, MD, pictured.
Dr. Luger is Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Leukemia Committee and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
The ECOG-ACRIN Leukemia Translational Science Laboratory and its then-director, Elisabeth M. Paietta, PhD, assessed MRD centrally by standard 6-color flow cytometry. Dr. Paietta went to great lengths to standardize the MRD assay and then carry it out in the E1910 patients.
View the abstract on the ASH conference website.