Conference Coverage

CLL at ASH: A ‘mountain of data’ for targeted therapies



– There was a mountain of data presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology on the use of novel agents – both as frontline therapy and in combination – for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

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In a video interview at the meeting, Brian T. Hill, MD, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic and Anthony Mato, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, summed up the key studies and what they mean in practice. They also looked ahead at what data are still missing that could aid in making important treatment decisions.

Dr. Hill highlighted the late-breaking abstract on the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group E1912 trial comparing ibrutinib-rituximab to a chemotherapy regimen of fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) in previously untreated patients under age 70 years (Abstract LBA-4). Not only was there a progression-free survival benefit with the use of the ibrutinib regimen, but there was an overall survival benefit as well, he noted.

Dr. Mato pointed to notable results from the Alliance A041202 trial of older patients with previously untreated disease that compared ibrutinib alone or in combination with rituximab, with bendamustine plus rituximab (Abstract #6). The ibrutinib-containing regimens resulted in superior progression-free survival.

The two trials taken together show a movement away from chemotherapy in the frontline setting and toward targeted agents for CLL, Dr. Mato said. “What that agent or combination of agents will be, remains to be seen,” he said. “We have now a real message about the fact that we’re ending, potentially, the era of chemotherapy for patients with CLL, which is a very welcome change.”

Dr. Mato and Dr. Hill will be discussing these trials and more CLL data during a Twitter chat on Jan. 31, 2019, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Join in the conversation by using and following #MDedgeChats.

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