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BALL score predicts benefit from ibrutinib therapy in relapsed/refractory CLL patients



The BALL score was able to identify a subset of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who particularly benefit from single-agent ibrutinib therapy, according to the results of a study of 111 patients followed from two different institutions.

The BALL model consists of four factors: serum beta₂-microglobulin at 5 mg/dL or greater, hemoglobin < 110 g/L for women or < 120 g/L for men, lactate dehydrogenase [LDH] > upper limit of normal [UNL], and time elapsed from last therapy less than 24 months. Each parameter was alloted 1 point, leading to a stratification of patients into three different prognostic groups: low risk (score 0-1), intermediate risk (2-3), and high risk (score 4), according to a report published online in Leukemia Research.

According to Stefano Molica, MD, of the Azienda Ospedaliera Pugliese-Ciaccio, Catanzaro, Italy, and his colleagues, the majority of patients (82%) were clinical Rai stage II-IV. The median patient age was 63 years and nearly 68% were men.

The researchers assessed four models for predicting overall survival. The modified version of CLL-International Prognostic Index (CLL-IPI) failed to provide prognostic information in relapsed/refractory (R/R) CLL (P = .77) as did the Ahn et al. model (P = .95) and a simplified BALL model (P = .09). In contrast, the full BALL score captured two groups of patients with significant differences in survival (hazard ratio, 0.240; 95 % confidence interval, 0.10-0.54; P = .0005); however, because of the low number of patients in the high-risk category, these cases were combined with the intermediate-risk group.

The BALL score identified a subset of patients, accounting for about 50% of the whole population, who particularly benefit from single-agent ibrutinib, according to Dr. Molica and his colleagues. These patients had a survival rate of 85% at 3 years.

“In contrast, the outcome of subjects with intermediate-high risk is disappointing. These patients should be considered for a combination of targeted drugs or cellular-based therapies,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Molica S et al. Leuk Res. 2020 Jun 10.

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