Conference Coverage

VIDEO - New lymphoma drug approvals: Clinical use, future directions



– 2017 was a banner year for the approval of new drugs to treat hematologic disorders.

At a special interest session at the annual meeting of American Society of Hematology, representatives from the Food and Drug Administration joined forces with clinicians to discuss the use of the newly approved treatments in the real-world setting.

In this video interview, Helen Heslop, MD, provided her perspective on the current use and future directions of three of these treatments: axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta), acalabrutinib (Calquence), and copanlisib (Aliqopa).

“This is extremely exciting,” she said regarding the pace of new approvals for hematologic malignancies.

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Axicabtagene ciloleucel, a CAR T-cell product approved in October for the treatment of relapsed/refractory large B-cell lymphoma in adults, is particularly interesting, she said.

“The data shows that if you look at a population of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients, that historically have a very poor outcome, there is definitely an impressive response rate and improved survival, compared to the natural history cohort,” said Dr. Heslop of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

However, while the findings are encouraging, only 30%-40% are having a durable response, she added.

“So I think there’ll be lots of efforts to try and improve the response rate by combination with other agents such as checkpoint inhibitors or other immunomodulators,” she said.

With respect to the second-generation Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor acalabrutinib, which was approved in October for adults with mantle cell lymphoma who have been treated with at least one prior therapy, she discussed the potential for improved outcomes and the importance of looking further into its use in patients who have failed ibrutinib therapy, as well as its use in combination with other agents, such as bendamustine and rituximab early in the course of disease.

Copanlisib, a PI3 kinase inhibitor approved in September, is an addition to the armamentarium for adult patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma after two lines of previous therapy.

“It still does have some side effects, as do other drugs in this class, so I think it’s place will still need to be defined,” Dr. Heslop said.

She reported having no relevant financial disclosures.

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