ASH 2016: Interim Analysis Shows Adding Lenalidomide Maintenance Therapy to Chemoimmunotherapy Prolongs Progression-Free Survival in High-Risk CLL

Key Points

  • Lenalidomide-treated patients had an 80% lower risk of disease progression, compared with placebo-treated patients.
  • 87% achieved a partial response, and 9% achieved a complete response.
  • After a median follow-up of 17.7 months, median progression-free survival was significantly longer for patients receiving lenalidomide maintenance than for those receiving placebo, for both high-risk (32.3 vs 3.7 months) and intermediate-risk CLL patients (not reached vs 19.4 months).

The combined use of genetic markers and minimal residual disease assessment (MRD) has made it easier to identify chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients likely to have a poor outcome after receiving frontline chemoimmunotherapy. Interim results from the phase III German CLL M1 study presented by Fink et al at the 2016 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition (Abstract 229) suggest that these patients would benefit from adding maintenance therapy with lenalidomide (Revlimid) to their treatment.

“This is the first study to show the benefits of lenalidomide maintenance in this patient population,” lead author Anna Maria Fink, MD, from the Center for Integrated Oncology Cologne-Bonn at the University Hospital of Cologne, said during her presentation of the results, with lenalidomide-treated patients having an 80% lower risk of disease progression, compared with placebo-treated patients. However, further investigation is needed to determine how lenalidomide maintenance will fit into the treatment paradigms with newer targeted therapies.

CLL M1 Findings

The double-blind, randomized, phase III CLL M1 study evaluated maintenance therapy with lenalidomide vs placebo in 89 CLL patients (median age = 64 years; range = 32–80 years) who achieved a partial response or better after receiving four or more cycles of front-line chemoimmunotherapy, but who were at high risk for disease progression (defined as minimal residual disease level ≥ 10­–2, or minimal residual disease levels ≥ 10–4 to < 10–2 with either unmutated IGHV gene status, del17p, or TP53 mutation at baseline).

Patients were randomized 2:1 to receive maintenance therapy with either lenalidomide (n = 60) or placebo (n = 29), starting at 5 mg daily in the first 28-day cycle and escalating in 5-mg increments until minimal residual disease negativity was achieved, with a target dose of 15 mg in the seventh cycle. If well-tolerated, the study drug was administered until disease progression. After 18 cycles, all patients who still had minimal residual disease positivity continued to receive 25 mg of lenalidomide until disease progression, and patients in the placebo arm received matching placebo doses.

The patients in the study were “relatively fit,” Dr. Fink reported, with a median cumulative illness rating score of 2. The majority of patients (~60%) received a combination of rituximab (Rituxan) with either bendamustine or fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide as their front-line chemotherapy. Overall, 87% achieved a partial response, and 9% achieved a complete response.

At the time of randomization, patients had the following high-risk characteristics:

  • 11.4% had the del17p mutation
  • 20.5% had the TP53 mutation
  • 90.2% had an unmutated IGHV gene status at baseline
  • 37% had a high minimal residual disease level
  • 63% had an intermediate minimal residual disease level

At the time of presentation, patients had received a median of 10 treatment cycles (range = 0–42): 11.1 cycles (range = 0.4–40.5) in the lenalidomide group and 8.3 cycles (range = 1–35) in the placebo group.

Treatment was discontinued in 27 patients on lenalidomide and 21 patients on the placebo arm, mostly due to adverse events, which were more common in the lenalidomide group (17 and 6). However, more patients in the placebo group discontinued treatment due to disease progression (4 and 13).

More patients treated with lenalidomide experienced neutropenia (30.4% vs 3.4%), gastrointestinal disorders (55.4% vs 27.6%), nervous system disorders (30.4% vs 13.8%), respiratory disorders (35.7% vs 13.8%), and skin disorders (60.7% vs 27.6%). Rates of infection and vascular disorders, though, were similar between lenalidomide- and placebo-treated patients (50% vs 62.1% and 14.3% vs 17.2%, respectively).

Three deaths occurred during the study period: one in the lenalidomide group (due to acute lymphocytic leukemia) and two in the placebo group (due to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and Richter syndrome).

After a median follow-up of 17.7 months, median progression-free survival was significantly longer for patients receiving lenalidomide maintenance than for those given placebo, for both high-risk (32.3 vs 3.7 months) and intermediate-risk CLL patients (not reached vs 19.4 months), and the risk of disease progression was reduced by 80% in patients who received lenalidomide, compared with placebo (hazard ratio = 0.198; 95% confidence interval = 0.083–0.475; < .0001). Overall survival, however, did not differ between the two treatment arms.

Dr. Fink noted that a number of patients who were minimal residual disease–positive converted to minimal residual disease–negative status while receiving lenalidomide maintenance, but these early results will need to be confirmed in future trials.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


Advertisement

Advertisement



;
Advertisement

By continuing to browse this site you permit us and our partners to place identification cookies on your browser and agree to our use of cookies to identify you for marketing. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.