Increased Response Rate With Higher Dose of Obinutuzumab Monotherapy for Patients With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia


Key Points

  • In a phase II trial, symptomatic, untreated patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia had a 67% overall response rate with obinutuzumab at 2,000 mg vs 49% at 1,000 mg.  
  • Patients receiving 2,000 mg also had higher complete response or complete response with incomplete cytopenic response, 20% vs 5% of patients receiving obinutuzumab at 1,000 mg.
  • Infusion events were manageable, and the therapy was well tolerated overall.


A randomized phase II study in symptomatic, untreated patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) found an increased overall response rate with obinutuzumab (Gazyva) at a dose of 2,000 mg vs 1,000. In addition, the “data demonstrate that obinutuzumab produces a higher response rate in symptomatic, previously untreated patients than previously observed in relapsed patients,” John C. Byrd, MD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, et al wrote in Blood.

Obinutuzumab injection was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013 for use in combination with chlorambucil (Leukeran) in previously untreated CLL patients. A glycoengineered, type 2 anti-CD20 humanized antibody, obinutuzumab also has been shown to have single-agent activity in relapsed CLL. A dose-response relationship has been shown with other nonengineered anti-CD20 antibodies, and this study was designed to evaluate whether a dose-response relationship exists with obinutuzumab as well.

Trial Design

A total of 80 patients from 19 different study sites were randomly assigned to receive obinutuzumab at either a dose of 1,000 mg (41 patients) or 2,000 mg (39 patients). One patient in each treatment group did not receive obinutuzumab. The median age was 67 years; 41% had high-risk Rai disease and 10% had del(17p)(13.1).

“Obinutuzumab was administered by IV infusion as an absolute (flat) dose of 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg,” the investigators reported. “Three doses of obinutuzumab were given during cycle 1, one each on days 1, 8, and 15. Splitting the first dose of obinutuzumab in cycle 1 was mandatory. For the 1,000-mg arm, the first dose was split over 2 consecutive days (100 mg on day 1 and 900 mg on day 2). For the 2,000-mg arm, the first dose could be split over 3 consecutive days (100 mg on day 1, 900 mg on day 2, and 1,000 mg on day 3). Alternatively, for the 2,000-mg arm, if the patient tolerated 100 mg on day 1, then the rest of the dose (1,900 mg) could be administered on day 2. The day-8 and day-15 doses could each be administered over 1 day (ie, not split). Thereafter, obinutuzumab was given on day 1 of each subsequent 21-day cycle, for up to 8 cycles.”

The median total cumulative dose of obinutuzumab was 10,000 mg in the 1,000-mg treatment group and 20,000 mg in the 2,000-mg group. The median duration of treatment and the mean dose intensity received were the same in both treatment groups.

Response and Survival Rates

The overall response rate was 67% with 2,000 mg of obinutuzumab vs 49% with 1,000 mg (P = .08). Patients receiving 2,000 mg also had higher complete response or complete response with incomplete cytopenic response, 20% vs 5% of patients receiving obinutuzumab at 1,000 mg (P < .05).

Four patients in each treatment group were considered high risk because they had a del(17)(p13.1). All four of these patients in the 2,000-mg group achieved an objective partial response, but none in the 1,000-mg group did.

Progression-free survival at 18 months was 83% in the 2,000-mg group vs 59% in the 1,000-mg group, but “the data show no difference in progression-free survival rates because the curves merge after month 18,” the researchers noted, and the confidence intervals overlap. “Further follow-up will be required to determine if dose-response translates into improved progression-free survival.” The median overall survival had not been reached for each group at the time of the data analyses.

Adverse Events

“Overall, therapy was well tolerated, and infusion events were manageable,” the investigators reported. Adverse events led to withdrawal of study medication in five patients (13%) in the 2,000-mg group and two patients (5%) in the 1,000-mg group.

Four deaths occurred. In the 1,000-mg group, two patients with del(17)(p.13.1) died due to disease progression after completion of treatment, and one patient died due to myocardial infarction, considered to be unrelated to the study treatment. One patient in the 2,000-mg group who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease died of emphysema.

Study Implications

“The overall response rate, complete response rate, and 18-month progression-free survival in the 2,000-mg obinutuzumab monotherapy arm very closely approximate that observed with the combination of obinutuzumab and chlorambucil,” the researchers wrote. “In contrast, the 1,000-mg dose cohort of obinutuzumab monotherapy had a lower response and shorter 18-month progression-free survival than observed with the previously reported combination of obinutuzumab and chlorambucil. Thus, these results suggest some benefit to the addition of chlorambucil for cytoreduction using the 1,000-mg dose of obinutuzumab.”

Further exploration of higher doses of obinutuzumab as part of combination therapy with chemotherapy or new targeted therapies should be considered, the authors suggested, as well as using higher doses of obinutuzumab earlier and then reducing the dosing when there is significant tumor elimination.

The trial was registered at as NCT01414205. 

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®.