ASH18: RNA Sequencing Identifies More Subtypes of Childhood Leukemia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Charles G. Mullighan, MBBS (Hons), MSc, MD Member, St. Jude Faculty Co-Leader, Hematological Malignancies Program Medical Director, St. Jude Biorepository William E. Evans Endowed Chair St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital Memphis, TN

Dr. Mullighan

Charles G. Mullighan, MBBS (Hons), MSc, MD
Member, St. Jude Faculty
Co-Leader, Hematological Malignancies Program
Medical Director, St. Jude Biorepository
William E. Evans Endowed Chair
St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital
Memphis, TN

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 

Response: B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is the commonest form of ALL, and the commonest childhood tumor. It is a leading cause of childhood cancer death. It consists of multiple subtypes defined by genetic alterations. These are often chromosomal translocations that deregulate oncogenes or form fusion proteins. These alterations are disease initiating events and are associated with distinct patterns of leukemic cell gene expression. Most subtypes also have additional mutations that are important for cells to become fully leukemic.

Identifying these initiating genetic changes is very important to identify patients that are likely to respond or do poorly with conventional therapy (multiagent chemotherapy). Also, some identify new opportunities for targeted therapy. However, using standard genetic testing approaches such as chromosomal cytogenetics, about 30% of B-ALL patients don’t have a subtype classifying alteration.

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The Medalist Trial: Luspatercept Reduced Transfusion Need in Some Myelodysplastic Syndromes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alan List MD President and Chief Executive Officer Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa, FL

Dr. List

Dr. Alan List MD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Moffitt Cancer Center
Tampa, FL

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: In patients with lower risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), which accounts for the vast majority of patients with MDS overall, the most common symptomatic cytopenia is anemia. These patients, overtime, become dependent upon red blood cell transfusions and with that, they face a risk of iron loading as well as complications that occur with it. The standard first line therapy that we consider for these patients is erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs). Patients who are transfusion dependent have a low response rate to ESAs, and responses are of short duration. There limited effective limited treatment options for those patients unresponsive or lose response to ESAs.

For years, we’ve known that the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β pathway play an important pathogenetic role in suppressing red cell maturation and cell survival.

Luspatercept is an agent that acts as an erythroid maturation agent by inhibiting the TGF-β signaling pathway by neutralizing a select group of TGF-β superfamily ligands.  Continue reading

Humanized Antibody To Attack Resistant Multiple Myeloma Cells in Bone Marrow

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D. Executive vice president antibody research and site head Aduro Biotech Europe

Dr. van Eenennaam

Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D.
Executive vice president antibody research and site head
Aduro Biotech Europe

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A PRoliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily and has been shown to stimulate the proliferation and survival of healthy B-lymphocytes. Malignant B-lymphocytes, such as multiple myeloma, use APRIL primarily in the bone marrow to support its proliferation and survival. Studies have shown that APRIL is overproduced in patients with multiple myeloma and mediates primarily via binding to B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) to stimulate a wide variety of responses that promote multiple myeloma growth and survival, as well as suppressing the immune system so that the tumor cells are protected and sustained in the bone marrow and can escape current available treatments.

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Patients with CLL Should Be Monitored for Skin Cancer, Including Melanoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Clive S. Zent MD Professor of Medicine Director of Lymphoma/CLL Program Wilmot Cancer Institute University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester NY

Dr. Zent


Clive S. Zent MD

Professor of Medicine
Director of Lymphoma/CLL Program
Wilmot Cancer Institute
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) have an increased risk of all skin cancers including malignant melanoma.

This study in a stable population of CLL patients managed by a regional referral center confirmed that melanoma was over 6 times more common in than in an age and sexed matched general population. Because of the proactive skin screening program at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Wilmot Cancer Center, most melanomas (77%) were detected at earlier stages and were treated surgically with curative intent. One patient with CLL and metastatic melanoma had a sustained remission of both diseases on treatment with ibrutinib and pembrolizumab. Continue reading

Children Undergoing Bone Marrow Transplant Remain At Risk For Premature Death

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Smita Bhatia, MD, MPH Gay and Bew White Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology Professor, Pediatric Oncology Vice Chair for Outcomes Research, Dept of Pediatrics Director, Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship School of Medicine University of Alabama at Birmingham Associate Director for Outcomes Research UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center 

Dr. Bhatia

Smita Bhatia, MD, MPH
Gay and Bew White Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology
Professor, Pediatric Oncology
Vice Chair for Outcomes Research, Dept of Pediatrics
Director, Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship
School of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Associate Director for Outcomes Research
UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation BMT is used with a curative intent for life-threatening malignant and non-malignant diseases of childhood.

In this observational study, we describe the late mortality experienced by children undergoing BMT over the past 3 decades. Our cohort included 1388 BMT recipients who had undergone allogeneic BMT between 1974 and 2010 and survived 2 or more years.

We found that, conditional on surviving the first 2 years after bone marrow transplantation, the probability of surviving an additional 20 years approached 80%. Risk of dying from non-relapse-related causes exceeded the risk of dying from relapse-related causes.

The leading non-relapse-related causes of death were infection (with or without graft vs. host disease) and new cancers. Overall, the cohort was at a 14-fold greater risk of dying as compared with the general population (of similar age and sex). Further, this excess risk remained elevated even among those who had survived 25 years.

On a positive note, the risk of late mortality has continued to decline over the past 3 decades. 

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Combination Therapy Could Dramatically Alter CLL Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Danelle James,

Dr. James

Dr. Danelle James, M.D., M.A.S.
Head of Clinical Science
Pharmacyclics, an AbbVie Company

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: CAPTIVATE is a Phase 2 study investigating IMBRUVICA (ibrutinib) plus VENCLEXTA (venetoclax) for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) in the first-line setting. It was designed to evaluate if remission with undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD) can provide treatment-naïve CLL/SLL patients with treatment holidays (a period of time when a patient is able to stop therapy). The study enrolled 164 patients with previously untreated CLL or SLL.

In preclinical and ongoing clinical studies, we’ve seen complementary activities with this combination. The combination has also previously shown potential for deeper remissions, as well as potential for lower risk of tumor lysis syndrome with ibrutinib as the lead-in therapy.

Early data from CAPTIVATE show promising activity for the combination in this patient population, with 77 percent of the first 30 patients achieving responses with no detectable MRD in the blood after only six cycles of the combination therapy. Approximately nine out of 10 of the first patients achieved undetectable MRD after 12 cycles of combination therapy (which were preceded by three cycles of single agent ibrutinib, for a total of 15 cycles of therapy). Specifically, 86 percent of the first 14 patients achieved undetectable MRD in the marrow and 93 percent in the peripheral blood.

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Engineered Single Cell ‘Cured’ Patient of CLL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. J Joseph Melenhorst, PhD Director, Product Development & Correlative Sciences laboratories (PDCS) Adjunct Associate Professor Penn Medicine Center for Cellular Immunotherapies University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Melenhorst

Dr. J Joseph Melenhorst, PhD
Director, Product Development & Correlative Sciences laboratories (PDCS)
Adjunct Associate Professor
Penn Medicine
Center for Cellular Immunotherapies
University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by CLL and CAR T cells? 

Response: We started treating patients with a form of blood cancer called CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) using a form of gene therapy wherein we engineer the patient’s own immune cells – T cells – with a tumor targeting molecule: The CAR, which stands for chimeric antigen receptor. When we engineer the patient’s immune cells we use a vehicle, in this case virus, that inserts the payload – the CAR – into the patient’s DNA. The virus disappears, and the CAR stays. Where this CAR inserts itself is unpredictable, but we always get stably engineered cells.  Continue reading

Multiple Myeloma Cases and Deaths Increase Worldwide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew J. Cowan, MD Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Division of Medical Oncology University of Washington, Seattle

Dr. Cowan

Andrew J. Cowan, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Division of Medical Oncology
University of Washington, Seattle

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

Response: Multiple myeloma (MM) is a plasma cell neoplasm with substantial morbidity and mortality. A comprehensive description of the global burden of multiple myeloma is needed to help direct health policy, resource allocation, research, and patient care.

Myeloma cases and deaths increased from 1990 to 2016, with middle-income countries contributing the most to this increase. Treatment availability is very limited in countries with low socioeconomic development.

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Pre-Emptive Therapy of CMV in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

 Dr-Roy F. Chemaly

Dr. Chemaly

Roy F. Chemaly, MD, MPH F.A.C.P., F.I.D.S.A.
Department of Infectious Diseases
Infection Control and Employee Health
Division of Internal Medicine
MD Anderson Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: CytomegalovirusCMV infection is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in allo-HCT recipients. Evidence suggests that CMV infection has not only an enormous clinical burden, but a substantial economic burden as well.

We conducted this study at MD Anderson to determine the economic and clinical burden of preemptive therapy (PET) for CMV infection. Between 2012 and 2015, 100 consecutive patients hospitalized at our institution for allo-HCT who experienced reactivation of CMV and were treated pre-emptively, were enrolled.

The majority of patients were men (55%), who had underlying leukemia (73%), and underwent matched unrelated donor transplant (59%). At the time of hospitalization, most patients had acute GvHD (62%), and were on steroids (58%) within 30 days of CMV reactivation which occurred at a median of 32 days post-HCT (2 -174). A total of 192 episodes of PET occurred in the 100 allo-HCT recipients within 1 year post-HCT. PET consisted of ganciclovir (41%), foscarnet (40%), and valganciclovir (38%). IVIG was also used as adjunct therapy in 20% of episodes.

Progression to Cytomegalovirus disease occurred in 4 patients (4%) and mainly affected the GI tract. Mean length of stay for patients treated with ganciclovir or foscarnet was 32 days (2-141) and 41 days (1-177), respectively. The average direct cost per patient admitted for PET was $126,038 ($7,866-$641,841) and the mean cost of CMV antiviral drug per hospitalization was $6,096 for IVIG, $2,410 for foscarnet, $836 for ganciclovir, and $780 for valganciclovir.

Serious side effects from PET were observed in 35% of patients on ganciclovir and 12% of patients on foscarnet. Total direct cost per encounter was significantly higher in patients who had serious side effects from foscarnet. All-cause mortality was 59% at 1 year post-transplant.

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DARZALEX® (daratumumab) Approved for Newly Diagnosed Patients with Multiple Myeloma who are Transplant Ineligible

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD Professor of Medicine Director, Myeloma Program University of Chicago

Dr. Jakubowiak


Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
Director, Myeloma Program
University of Chicago

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement? Would you briefly explain what is meant by multiple myeloma?

 

Response: DARZALEX (daratumumab) in combination with VELCADE (bortezomib), melphalan and prednisone – VMP – received U.S. FDA approval for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma who are ineligible for autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). With this most recent approval, DARZALEX is now the first monoclonal antibody approved for newly diagnosed patients with this disease.

Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer that occurs when malignant plasma cells grow uncontrollably in the bone marrow. Despite the introduction of new medicines over the last decade, which has led to significant improvements in outcomes for patients with multiple myeloma, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease. In 2018, it is estimated that 30,700 people will be diagnosed and 12,770 will die from the disease in the United States.

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Letermovir (Prevymis) Prevents CMV Infection in Stem Cell Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Francisco M. Marty, M.D Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Marty

Francisco M. Marty, M.D
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infection in patients who undergo allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation with cells from donors different than the patient). Up until now, we had no antiviral agent that could be used for prophylaxis (prevention) of CMV post-transplant because of the side effects of drugs available to date (ganciclovir, valganciclovir, foscarnet, cidofovir).

This trial confirmed that letermovir was highly effective in preventing CMV infection when used in the first 100 days after allogeneic HCT, was associated with minimal side effects of concern and was also associated with lower all-cause mortality by Week 24 post-HCT.

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Microtransplantation Can Be Safe and Effective For Older AML Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Huisheng Ai, MD, Director

Department of Hematology and Transplantation,
Affiliated Hospital of the Academy  of Military Medical Sciences,
Beijing, China 

MedicalResearch.com: Which of these results did you find most interesting or surprising?

Response: First, we must stress that microtransplant dramatically improved the outcome of older patients with AML.

As we know, older AML patients often possess unfavorable prognostic factors, organ dysfunction, and slow post-chemotherapy hematopoietic recovery. Therefore, the general treatment outcome is unsatisfactory even though the incidence is increasing by age with low complete remission (CR) rates (34% to 65%) and poor short-term survival (Two years overall survival was about 11% to 25%).

This study involved cases from multiple centers of China, USA and Spain, and found that microtransplant could not only significantly improve complete remission rate in older AML patients among all age groups from 60 to 85, but also improve 1-year and 2-year overall survival and disease free survival especially in patients aged 60 to 75. Second, microtransplant completely overcomes the restriction of HLA typing. The donor could be the patient’s haploidentical family member, or unrelated and fully mismatched one. The incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was only 1.1%, even if no any GVHD prevention was given. Other treatment related complications and mortality were also decreased.

These results are much better than those of traditional chemotherapy, myeloablative and non-myeloablative transplant, which provides a more safe and effective treatment choice. We are looking forward to seeing the revision of NCCN guideline for older AML to make microtransplant benefit more older patients.

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CLL: Long-term efficacy of ONO/GS-4059 is maintained without emergence of new toxicities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Martin J.S. Dyer, D.Phil MA FRCP FRCPath Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute University of Leicester, UK

Prof. Dyer

Martin J.S. Dyer, D.Phil MA FRCP FRCPath
Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute
University of Leicester, UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study follows on from a world-first clinical trial of a new drug to treat particular blood cancers. Results of that international clinical trial were published in the journal Blood in November 2015 and looked at the efficacy of a new inhibitor, ONO/GS-4059, in the treatment of CLL and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma patients, refractory or resistant to current chemotherapies.

ONO/GS-4059 targets BTK, a protein essential for the survival and proliferation of the tumour cells.

The study opened in January 2012 and 90 patients were enrolled in different centres in the UK and in France, with 28 coming from Leicester. Patients with CLL showed the best response and most of them were still on the study after 3 years, and remarkably without notable toxicities.

In the new paper, we are reporting the long-term follow-up results. This work, published in the journal Blood, was funded by the Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute, ONO Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Pharmaceuticals and the Cancer Research UK Leicester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. Local charity Hope Against Cancer fund the Clinical Trials Facility based at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

This current paper describes the long term follow up and shows that in patients with CLL the remissions are durable and associated with no new toxicities. Furthermore, in collaboration with Sistemas Genomicos, a company in Valencia, we have shown that mutations associated with aggressive disease respond well to treatment with ONO/GS-4059.

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Intermittent Fasting Inhibits Cancer Cells in Childhood Leukemia ALL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chengcheng (Alec) Zhang, Ph.D. Associate Professor Hortense L. and Morton H. Sanger Professorship in Oncology Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar for Medical Research Department of Physiology  UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Alec Zhang

Chengcheng (Alec) Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Hortense L. and Morton H. Sanger Professorship in Oncology
Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar for Medical Research
Department of Physiology
UT Southwestern Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: New therapeutic targets and approaches are needed to effectively treat leukemia. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common form of adult acute leukemia whereas acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of cancer in children; ALL also occurs in adults. Although treatment of pediatric ALL is highly effective, a sizeable number of patients are non-responders who succumb to this disease. The outcome of ALL in adults is significantly worse than for pediatric ALL. Additionally, some types of ALL have a much poorer prognosis than others.

Dietary restriction, including fasting, delays aging and has prolonged effects in a wide range of organisms and has been considered for cancer prevention. In certain types of solid tumor,_ENREF_1 dietary restriction regimens are able to promote T cell-mediated tumor cytotoxicity and enhance anticancer immunosurveillance, and coordinate with chemotherapy to promote the anti-cancer effects. However, the responsiveness of hematopoietic malignancies to dietary restriction, including fasting, remains unknown. Furthermore, whether dietary restriction alone can inhibit cancer development is not clear.

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Novel Relapse Markers Identified in Pediatric ALL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jason Saliba PhD

Perlmutter Cancer Center
New York University Langone Medical Center
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The outcome for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has improved dramatically over the last four decades, but the prognosis for those who relapse remains dismal, especially for those who relapse while on therapy. In fact, relapsed disease remains a leading cause of cancer related mortality in children. To date, various studies have discovered a number of somatic alterations that contribute to driving relapse and have provided profound insight into the selective forces that lead to clonal outgrowth of drug resistant populations. However, the timing of the initial emergence of the driving mutations along with the speed of clonal outgrowth is unknown.

Whole exome sequencing (WES) was run on available diagnosis, germline (remission), and relapse samples collected from thirteen pediatric ALL patients treated according to Nordic NOPHO ALL protocols. Analyses were then performed to find somatic missense mutations enriched in the relapse samples versus their patient matched diagnosis and/or germline samples. Candidate relapse driving missense mutations were identified as present at high levels (>20%) in the relapse sample, but were undetectable in germline or low to absent in the diagnosis sample. Eight of the thirteen patients contained mutations in genes previously reported to be enriched at relapse. Interestingly, a majority of the patients contained novel candidate relapse specific genes involved in a wide array of cellular processes such as cell adhesion/migration, RNA polymerase II/transcription, circadian rhythm, the unfolded protein response, RNA transport, epigenetic regulation, DNA methylation, and kinases.

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Germline Genetic Variation in IKZF1 and Predisposition to Childhood ALL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michelle Churchman, PhD Scientific Manager of Charles Mullighan's laboratory Department of Pathology St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Dr. Michelle Churchman

Michelle Churchman, PhD
Scientific Manager of Charles Mullighan’s laboratory
Department of Pathology
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The role of IKZF1 alterations in the development of B-progenitor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) and their role in determining poor outcome of treatment has been a long-term focus of our groups. We had previously identified somatic (tumor-acquired) IKZF1 deletions and mutations in high-risk leukemia, and identified several mechanisms by which these mutations drive high-risk leukemia. We also have a long-standing interest in studying inherited genetic risk factors of childhood ALL. In this latest study, our research team identified a family in Germany with a history of B-cell deficiency and B-ALL that had a germline IKZF1 mutation, prompting us to investigate whether inherited IKZF1 variants are related to predisposition to ALL in general. To investigate this, the IKZF1 gene was sequenced from the germline DNA of nearly 5000 patients enrolled on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Children’s Oncology Group front-line ALL trials. We identified 27 unique inherited (germline) IKZF1 variants in 44 patients and found that most of them perturbed the normal functions of the encoded Ikaros transcription factor. Particularly, several of the variants lost the ability to bind DNA and regulate expression of transcriptional targets.

We know from previous studies that genes involved in differentiation and adhesion are overexpressed in IKZF1-altered leukemic cells, which results in abnormal adhesion between cells and components of the bone marrow.

Many of the variants resulted in increased adhesion. We show that several of these germline variants caused leukemic cells to be less sensitive to drugs.

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Tocilizumab High Active For Refractory Graft vs Host Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alex Ganetsky

Dr. Alex Ganetsky

Alex Ganetsky, PharmD, BCOP
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist – Hematology/BMT
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

• Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients with steroid-refractory gastrointestinal acute graft-versus-host disease (GI-GVHD) have poor outcomes.
• There is no consensus for optimal treatment of these patients.
• We retrospectively evaluated the efficacy of tocilizumab, an interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, for the treatment of steroid-refractory GI-GVHD.
• 10/11 (91%) patients achieved a complete response after a median time of 11 days (range, 2 – 18) from tocilizumab initiation.
• The median time to response onset, defined as improvement in GVHD stage by at least 1, was 1 day (range, 1 – 6).
• At a median follow-up of 3 months (range, 1.1 – 12.8) from tocilizumab initiation, 8 of 11 patients are alive and free of the their underlying hematologic malignancy.
• No associations between serum levels of IL-6 and tocilizumab response could be identified.
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Leukoencephalopathy As Marker of Cognitive Impairment After Chemotherapy For Childhood ALL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yin Ting Cheung, PhD

Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control and
Noah D Sabin, MD
Department of Diagnostic Imaging
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Memphis, TN

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who are treated with high-dose intravenous methotrexate or intrathecal chemotherapy are at risk for neurocognitive impairment, particularly in cognitive processes such as processing speed, attention and executive function. However, many children who receive these therapies do not experience significant impairments, suggesting the need for biomarkers to identify patients at greatest risk. Prior research from our team demonstrated that, during chemotherapy, patients were at risk for white matter changes in the brain, also known as leukoencephalopathy. No studies documented the persistence or impact of brain leukoencephalopathy in long-term survivors of childhood ALL treated on contemporary chemotherapy-only protocols.

In this study, we included prospective neuroimaging from active therapy to long-term follow-up, and comprehensive assessment of brain structural and functional outcomes in long-term survivors of ALL treated with contemporary risk-adapted chemotherapy. We demonstrated that survivors who developed leukoencephalopathy during therapy displayed more neurobehavioral problems at more than 5 years post-diagnosis. Moreover, these survivors also had reduced white matter integrity at long-term follow-up, and these structural abnormalities were concurrently associated with the neurobehavioral problems.

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Cord Blood Transplant in Leukemia With Minimal Residual Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Filippo Milano, MD, PhD Assistant Member, Clinical Research Division Associate Director Cord Blood Transplantation Cord Blood Program Assistant Professor, University of Washington Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Dr. Filippo Milano

Dr. Filippo Milano, MD, PhD
Assistant Member, Clinical Research Division
Associate Director Cord Blood Transplantation
Cord Blood Program
Assistant Professor, University of Washington
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: When first introduced, cord blood (CB) graft was used only as a last resort when no suitable conventional donor could be identified, largely due to the limiting cell doses available in a cord blood graft. A CB graft, however, is attractive due to the increased level of HLA disparity that can be tolerated, without increased risk of graft versus host disease, allowing nearly all patients to find such a donor.

The main intent of the study was to evaluate whether or not, at our Institution, cord blood SHOULD STILL BE considered only AS an alternative DONOR or IF instead outcomes were comparable to those obtained with more “conventional” types of transplants from matched and mismatched unrelated donors.

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Marital and Insurance Status Affect Survival in Multiple Myeloma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Luciano J. Costa, MD, PhD Associate Professor Department of Medicine and UAB-CCC Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program Birmingham, AL 35294

Dr. Luciano Costa

Luciano J. Costa, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine and UAB-CCC
Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program
Birmingham, AL 35294

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Even though expected survival for multiple myeloma patients has increased over the last two decades, that improvement has not been much more pronounced among White than among patients of racial/ethnic minorities. It is possible that such discrepancy results from unequal access to care, particularly as treatment becomes more complex and expensive. We used a large dataset of patients with  multiple myeloma to explore how socioeconomic factors, specifically marital status, income and insurance affect outcome and how these factors relate to race/ethnicity.

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Phase 3 Trial of Iomab-B as an Induction and Conditioning Agent Prior to Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant in Relapsed or Refractory AML

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Felix Garzon, MD, PhD Senior Vice President Head of Clinical Development Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. New York, NY 10016

Felix Garzon

Felix Garzon, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President
Head of Clinical Development
Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
New York, NY 10016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What is goal of this Study?

Response: Iomab-B (“Iomab”) was developed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“the Hutch”) in Seattle, Washington. The Hutch is a pioneer in the field of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) having 3 Nobel Prizes and doctors there performed some of the first transplants for leukemia patients. Iomab-B is intended to be an induction and conditioning agent prior to a BMT for patients with relapsed or refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) who are over the age of 55. BMT is the only potentially curative option for AML i.e. for this patient population that currently has a survival prognosis of 2-6 months which means that if Iomab-B is successful it would create a new market segment and offer patients a great clinical benefit and a hope for a cure. Actinium Pharmaceuticals licensed Iomab from the Hutch in 2012 and prior to us licensing Iomab, it had been studied in almost 300 patients in several phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in an array of blood cancers, both leukemias and lymphomas. Actinium is now the sponsor of a pivotal phase 3 trial for Iomab-B to study its use as an induction and conditioning agent prior to a bone marrow transplantation in patients with relapsed or refractory AML who are over the age of 55. This trial, which we have named the SIERRA (Study of Iomab-B in Elderly Relapsed or Refractory AML) trial, started at the end of June 2016 and we expect to enroll 150 patients by the end of 2017.

The primary endpoint of the SIERRA trial is durable complete remissions (dCR) of 6 months. The study arm will consist of Iomab-B administration followed by a  bone marrow transplantation, patients will be evaluated for dCR at 6 months after engraftment, which will be assessed at day 28 or day 56. The control arm of the study will be physician’s choice of chemotherapy and if the patient is able to achieve a complete remission (CR) they may receive a BMT or some other form of treatment with curative intent. The study is designed to evaluate if the study arm of Iomab-B and a BMT can double the dCR rate of the control arm, which is designed to replicate the current treatment regimen prior to a bone marrow transplantation .

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Biomarker May Predict Response to Common Leukemia Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Laura Eadie PhD Post Doctoral Researcher Affiliate Lecturer Discipline of Medicine University of Adelaide

Dr. Laura Eadie

Dr Laura Eadie PhD
Post Doctoral Researcher
Affiliate Lecturer Discipline of Medicine
University of Adelaide

Summary: Researchers based at SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) in Adelaide, South Australia have recently demonstrated the significance of early increases in the expression of ABCB1 in predicting long-term response to imatinib therapy. Lead researcher, Dr Laura Eadie, has recently had these findings published in the journal Leukemia and says that she hopes “the evidence provided by the study could be used to inform better patient treatment in the future”.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: ABCB1 (p-glycoprotein) is a membrane transporter known to be involved in the efflux of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Overexpression of ABCB1 has also been demonstrated to cause resistance to the TKIs imatinib, nilotinib and dasatinib in vitro. Although studied previously in CML patients, the predictive value of ABCB1 in determining a patient’s long-term response to imatinib had not been realized … until now.

Previous studies investigating ABCB1 as a predictive biomarker focused on expression levels of ABCB1 at one time point in isolation. For our study, we have measured the levels of ABCB1 at two separate time points specified in the TIDEL II trial protocol: day 1 (prior to the start of imatinib therapy) and day 22 (three weeks on imatinib). We then calculated the fold rise in ABCB1 expression levels at day 22 compared with day 1 and grouped patients about the median into high and low fold rise. When we compared molecular outcomes for patients within these two ABCB1 expression groups we noticed a striking difference in outcome to imatinib therapy.

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Multikinase Inhibitor Midostaurin Improved Symptoms and Survival in Most Advanced Forms of Blood Cancer Mastocytosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason R. Gotlib, MD The Clinical Investigator Pathway Hematology Division at Stanford University Medical Cent

Dr. Jason R. Gotlib

Jason R. Gotlib, MD
The Clinical Investigator Pathway
Hematology Division
Stanford University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background is that advanced forms of systemic mastocytosis, which are blood cancers characterized by accumulation of abnormal mast cells in the bone marrow and additional organs, represent a group of orphan diseases with a large unmet need. Approximately 90% of patients harbor the acquired KIT D816V mutation, a mutated receptor tyrosine kinase on the surface of mast cells which a primary driver of disease pathogenesis. Only 1 drug is approved for patients with one form of advanced systemic mastocytosis, termed ‘aggressive systemic mastocytosis, or ‘ASM’. This therapy is imatinib (Gleevec), but it is only approved for patients without the KIT D816V mutation, or with KIT mutation status unknown because the KIT D816V mutation is resistant to imatinib. Therefore, this drug may only be useful for approximately 10% of patients. Other drugs that have been used off-label for systemic mastocytosis (but are not approved for this indication) include interferon-alpha or cladribine, which show some activity, but their evaluation to date has been primarily limited to small case series which are usually retrospective in nature, and include mixed populations of systemic mastocytosis patients who have both early stage disease without organ damage (e.g. indolent systemic mastocytosis) and and advanced stage patients, as included in this trial, who have one or more findings of organ damage. Also, those trials employed differing response criteria and no central adjudication of eligibility and response assessments was undertaken.

Midostaurin is a multikinase inhibitor with activity against both wild-type KIT, but most importantly, KIT D816V (in contrast to imatinib). Prior work demonstrated that cell lines transformed with the KIT D816V mutation can be inhibited at relatively low concentrations of midostaurin. These concentrations could also be achieved in vivo (e.g. at concentrations achievable in the blood of patients). Cell lines transformed by KIT D816V could not be inhibited by imatinib.

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Life Expectancy Greatly Improved for Patients Diagnosed with CML

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hannah Bower, MSc
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previously, if left untreated or with symptomatic treatment (up to the 1970’s), the median survival time of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) ranged between two and three years. Later, interferon alpha and allogeneic stem cell transplantation were introduced. However, improvements in survival were mainly seen in younger patients. Treatment with the tyrosine-kinase inhibitor (TKI) imatinib-mesylate (Glivec®, Gleevec®) began in Sweden in the early 2000 resulting in major survival improvements, with the exception of the old/very elderly.

We investigated if these improvements continued to 2013 and if improvements are now observed in the elderly via the life expectancy and the loss in expectation of life; the latter of these quantifies the change in the life expectancy due to a diagnosis of CML. The great improvements in life expectancy, especially in the youngest patients, translate into great reductions in the loss in expectation of life. The major factor contributing to the improvement in the elderly is likely the increasing use of TKIs.

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Cardiovascular Risks More Common With Newer TKI Chemotherapeutics for CML

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Torsten Dahlén MD
Centre for Hematology
Karolinska University Hospital Solna
Stockholm Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Dr. Dahlén: Patients diagnosed with CML have had a dramatic increase in life-expectancy since the widespread introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in 2001. However, treatment is today regarded as life-long. We thus need to observe for late-effects of continuous TKI exposure. Recent reports have demonstrated a linkage between TKI treatment, especially more potent 2nd and 3rd generation drugs, and to the occurrence of peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD). This study aimed to use real-world data utilizing Swedish population based registries together with the dedicated Swedish CML registry which contains data and follow-up on more than 98% of all CML patients diagnosed in Sweden since 2002.

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