Conference Coverage

Master trial seeks to aid drug development for pediatric AML



– Researchers are organizing a master trial in an attempt to improve the treatment of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

The Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) trial is an effort to collect data on all pediatric AML patients. The plan is to use these data to match patients to clinical trials, better understand pediatric AML, and bring new treatments to this population.

E. Anders Kolb, MD, of Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Wilmington, Del., described the initiative at the annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Dr. Kolb noted that several drugs have been approved to treat adult AML in the last 2 years, but most of them are not approved for use in children.

“What we see in childhood AML is a lot different than what we see in adult AML, and this challenges the paradigm that we have traditionally followed where we use the adult as the 'preclinical model' for pediatric AML,” he said. “I think we are learning more and more that children have a unique disease, unique targets, and need unique therapies.”

The PedAL initiative is an attempt to address these unique needs. PedAL is part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Children’s Initiative, and it involves researchers from academic centers and the Children’s Oncology Group.

The PedAL initiative includes preclinical, biomarker, and informatics research, as well as the master clinical trial. The main goal of the master trial is to collect genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, flow cytometry, and clinical data from all children with AML and use these data to match patients to clinical trials.

The PedAL trial will leverage Project:EveryChild, an effort by the Children’s Oncology Group to study every child with cancer. Each child enrolled in this program has an identification number that follows the child through all clinical interventions.

The goal is that Project:EveryChild will capture all pediatric AML patients at the time of diagnosis, although patients can join the project at any time. Then, sequencing, clinical, and other data will be collected from these patients and stored in a data commons.

If patients relapse after standard or other therapies, the GEARBOX algorithm (genomic eligibility algorithm at relapse for better outcomes) can be used to match the patient’s information to clinical trial eligibility criteria and provide a list of appropriate trials.

Dr. Kolb said this process should reduce logistical barriers and get relapsed patients to trials more quickly. Additionally, the data collected through PedAL should help researchers design better trials for pediatric patients with relapsed AML.

“Ultimately, we’ll create the largest data set that will give us a better understanding of all the risks and benefits associated with postrelapse AML,” Dr. Kolb said. “No matter what happens to the patient, no matter where that patient enrolls, we’re going to have the capacity to collect data and present that data to the community for analysis for improved understanding of outcomes.”

Dr. Kolb and his colleagues are already working with researchers in Europe and Japan to make this a global effort and create an international data commons. In addition, the researchers are planning to collaborate with the pharmaceutical industry to unite efforts in pediatric AML drug development.

“We can’t just test drugs in kids because they worked in adults,” Dr. Kolb said. “We really need to maintain the integrity of the science and ask relevant questions in children but do so with the intent to make sure these drugs are licensed for use in kids.”

Dr. Kolb reported having no conflicts of interest. The PedAL trial is sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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