Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Blood disorders


Background Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) primarily affects older persons who often have coexisting conditions in addition to disease-related immunosuppression and myelosuppression. We conducted an international, open-label, randomized phase 3 trial to compare two oral agents, ibrutinib and chlorambucil, in previously untreated older patients with CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma. Methods We randomly assigned 269 previously untreated patients who were 65 years of age or older and had CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma to receive ibrutinib or chlorambucil. The primary end point was progression-free survival as assessed by an independent review committee. Results The median age of the patients was 73 years. During a median follow-up period of 18.4 months, ibrutinib resulted in significantly longer progression-free survival than did chlorambucil (median, not reached vs. 18.9 months), with a risk of progression or death that was 84% lower with ibrutinib than that with chlorambucil (hazard ratio, 0.16; P<0.001). Ibrutinib significantly prolonged overall survival; the estimated survival rate at 24 months was 98% with ibrutinib versus 85% with chlorambucil, with a relative risk of death that was 84% lower in the ibrutinib group than in the chlorambucil group (hazard ratio, 0.16; P=0.001). The overall response rate was higher with ibrutinib than with chlorambucil (86% vs. 35%, P<0.001). The rates of sustained increases from baseline values in the hemoglobin and platelet levels were higher with ibrutinib. Adverse events of any grade that occurred in at least 20% of the patients receiving ibrutinib included diarrhea, fatigue, cough, and nausea; adverse events occurring in at least 20% of those receiving chlorambucil included nausea, fatigue, neutropenia, anemia, and vomiting. In the ibrutinib group, four patients had a grade 3 hemorrhage and one had a grade 4 hemorrhage. A total of 87% of the patients in the ibrutinib group are continuing to take ibrutinib. Conclusions Ibrutinib was superior to chlorambucil in previously untreated patients with CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma, as assessed by progression-free survival, overall survival, response rate, and improvement in hematologic variables. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; RESONATE-2 number, NCT01722487 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Chemotherapy, Relative risk, Hematology, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Blood disorders, Small lymphocytic lymphoma


Background The treatment of relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has resulted in few durable remissions. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK), an essential component of B-cell-receptor signaling, mediates interactions with the tumor microenvironment and promotes the survival and proliferation of CLL cells. Methods We conducted a phase 1b-2 multicenter study to assess the safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of ibrutinib (PCI-32765), a first-in-class, oral covalent inhibitor of BTK designed for treatment of B-cell cancers, in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma. A total of 85 patients, the majority of whom were considered to have high-risk disease, received ibrutinib orally once daily; 51 received 420 mg, and 34 received 840 mg. Results Toxic effects were predominantly grade 1 or 2 and included transient diarrhea, fatigue, and upper respiratory tract infection; thus, patients could receive extended treatment with minimal hematologic toxic effects. The overall response rate was the same in the group that received 420 mg and the group that received 840 mg (71%), and an additional 20% and 15% of patients in the respective groups had a partial response with lymphocytosis. The response was independent of clinical and genomic risk factors present before treatment, including advanced-stage disease, the number of previous therapies, and the 17p13.1 deletion. At 26 months, the estimated progression-free survival rate was 75% and the rate of overall survival was 83%. Conclusions Ibrutinib was associated with a high frequency of durable remissions in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma, including patients with high-risk genetic lesions. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; number, NCT01105247 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Hematology, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Respiratory system, Blood disorders, Upper respiratory tract infection, B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia


Background Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a mediator of the B-cell-receptor signaling pathway implicated in the pathogenesis of B-cell cancers. In a phase 1 study, ibrutinib, a BTK inhibitor, showed antitumor activity in several types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including mantle-cell lymphoma. Methods In this phase 2 study, we investigated oral ibrutinib, at a daily dose of 560 mg, in 111 patients with relapsed or refractory mantle-cell lymphoma. Patients were enrolled into two groups: those who had previously received at least 2 cycles of bortezomib therapy and those who had received less than 2 complete cycles of bortezomib or had received no prior bortezomib therapy. The primary end point was the overall response rate. Secondary end points were duration of response, progression-free survival, overall survival, and safety. Results The median age was 68 years, and 86% of patients had intermediate-risk or high-risk mantle-cell lymphoma according to clinical prognostic factors. Patients had received a median of three prior therapies. The most common treatment-related adverse events were mild or moderate diarrhea, fatigue, and nausea. Grade 3 or higher hematologic events were infrequent and included neutropenia (in 16% of patients), thrombocytopenia (in 11%), and anemia (in 10%). A response rate of 68% (75 patients) was observed, with a complete response rate of 21% and a partial response rate of 47%; prior treatment with bortezomib had no effect on the response rate. With an estimated median follow-up of 15.3 months, the estimated median response duration was 17.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.8 to not reached), the estimated median progression-free survival was 13.9 months (95% CI, 7.0 to not reached), and the median overall survival was not reached. The estimated rate of overall survival was 58% at 18 months. Conclusions Ibrutinib shows durable single-agent efficacy in relapsed or refractory mantle-cell lymphoma. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; number, NCT01236391 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Signal transduction, Response rate, Chemotherapy, Protein kinase, Tyrosine kinase, Lymphoma, Blood disorders


To the Editor: Ibrutinib is an oral, small-molecule Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor that has activity in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle-cell lymphoma, and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia.(1)-(3) We administered single-agent ibrutinib at a dose of 560 mg daily to two heavily pretreated patients who had primary refractory classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Patient 1 was a 28-year-old woman who underwent haploidentical allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation after receiving eight prior therapeutic regimens, including autologous hematopoietic-cell transplantation and brentuximab vedotin. Two months after the hematopoietic-cell transplantation, fevers, night sweats, and weight loss developed. Combined positron-emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) showed relapsed disease above and . . .

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Positron emission tomography, Protein kinase, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, Blood disorders


The clinical importance of erythroid predominance in bone marrow of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is controversial. These cases represent a heterogeneous group of diseases that historically have been classified into different categories. We studied 313 AML patients and specifically compared the clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular features of cases of AML with erythroid predominance, arbitrarily defined as ≥50% erythroid precursors, to AML cases without erythroid predominance. We also assessed 51 patients with a high-grade myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB). All neoplasms were classified according to the World Health Organization classification. With the exception of therapy-related AML/MDS, the presence of erythroid predominance in variously classified categories of AML was associated with a survival advantage. In addition, AML with erythroid predominance had a lower frequency of cytogenetic abnormalities as well as a lower frequency of mutations involving NPM1, NRAS and FLT3 as compared with AML without erythroid predominance. We conclude that the clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular features of AML with erythroid predominance in the non-therapy-related setting are much closer to those of a high-grade myelodysplastic syndrome than they are to other types of AML.

Concepts: Cancer, Bone marrow, Hematology, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Myelodysplastic syndrome, Refractory anemia


The purpose of this study was to determine if there is an increased risk of acute leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in persons with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). We utilized a large population-based cohort of individuals systematically screened for the presence or absence of MGUS. MGUS status was then linked to the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and MDS. 17 315 patients age 50 and older (605 MGUS and 16 710 controls) with a cumulative 435 021 person-years of follow-up were studied. MGUS patients had a significantly higher risk of developing MDS compared with controls, hazard ratio 2.4 (95%CI 1.08,5.32), P=0.031. There was no statistically significant increase in the risk of AML (RR 1.36 P=0.675), and no increased risk of developing ALL.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 5 February 2013; doi:10.1038/leu.2013.34.

Concepts: Hematology, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, Myelodysplastic syndrome, French-American-British classification


Hairy cell leukemia is a mature B-cell non-Hogkin lymphoma characterized by unique clinical, morphological and immunhistochemical features. Patients with hairy cell leukemia usually present with splenomegaly, progressive pancytopenia and a relative indolent clinical course. The diagnosis does not always indicate immediate treatment, as treatment depends on the clinical stage of the leukemia. Asymptomatic disease without progression requires a watchful waiting policy, while other categories usually need treatment. The treatment of choice is purin nucleosid analogues (pentostatin, cladribine) which can achieve complete remission even for decades. Interferon and monoclonal CD20 antibodies can also significantly prolong tevent free survival. Unfortunately, only the latter two therapies are easily available in Hungary. Splenectomy, which was suggested as first line treatment before the era of purin nucleosid analogues, is only recommended as ultimum refugium. Although hairy cell leukemia is a well-defined lymphoproliferative disease, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate it from other similar entities such as hairy cell leukema variant, splenic marginal zone lymphoma, small lymphocytic lymphoma etc. Making the correct diagnosis is of utmost importance because of the great difference in treatment modalities. Recently, a somatic mutation was found in all analysed hairy cell leukemia samples, but not in other splenic B-cell lymphomas. This article reviews the significance of this observation and presents the different types of methods for the detection of this mutation. Orv. Hetil., 2013, 154, 123-127.

Concepts: Lymphocyte, Cancer, Types of cancer, Hematology, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Blood disorders, Hairy cell leukemia


Up to 30% of adults with acute myeloid leukemia fail to achieve a complete remission after induction chemotherapy - termed primary refractory acute myeloid leukemia. There is no universally agreed definition of primary refractory disease, nor have the optimal treatment modalities been defined. We studied 8907 patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia and examined outcomes in patients with refractory disease defined using differing criteria which have previously been proposed. These included failure to achieve complete remission after one cycle of induction chemotherapy (RES), less than a 50% reduction in blast numbers with >15% residual blasts after one cycle of induction chemotherapy (REF1 ) and failure to achieve complete remission after two courses of induction chemotherapy (REF2). 5 year overall survival was decreased in patients fulfilling any criteria for refractory disease compared with patients achieving a complete remission after one cycle of induction chemotherapy: 9% and 8% in patients with REF1 and REF 2 versus 40% (p <0.0001). Allogeneic stem cell transplantation improved survival in the REF1 (HR 0.58 (0.46-0.74), p=0.00001) and REF2 (HR 0.55 (0.41-0.74), p=0.0001) cohorts. Utilization of REF1 criteria permits the early identification of patients whose outcome after one course of induction chemotherapy is very poor and informs a novel definition of primary refractory acute myeloid leukemia. Furthermore, these data demonstrate that allogeneic stem cell transplantation represents an effective therapeutic modality in selected patients with primary refractory acute myeloid leukaemia.

Concepts: Cancer, Bone marrow, Chemotherapy, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Modality, Acute erythroid leukemia


Variants in ETV6, which encodes a transcription repressor of the E26 transformation-specific family, have recently been reported to be responsible for inherited thrombocytopenia and hematologic malignancy. We sequenced the DNA from cases with unexplained dominant thrombocytopenia and identified six likely pathogenic variants in ETV6, of which five are novel. We observed low repressive activity of all tested ETV6 variants and variants located in the E26 transformation-specific binding domain (encoding p.A377T, p.Y401N) led to reduced binding to co-repressors. We also observed large expansion of CFU-MKs derived from variant carriers and reduced proplatelet formation with abnormal cytoskeletal organization. The defect in proplatelet formation was also observed in control CD34+ cell-derived megakaryocytes transduced with lentiviral particles encoding mutant ETV6. Reduced expression levels of key regulators of the actin cytoskeleton Cdc42 and RhoA were measured. Moreover, changes in the actin structures are typically accompanied by a rounder platelet shape with a highly heterogeneous size, decreased platelet arachidonic response, spreading and retarded clot retraction in ETV6 deficient platelets. Elevated numbers of circulating CD34+ cells were found in p.P214L and p.Y401N carriers, and two patients from different families suffered from refractory anemia with excess blasts while one patient from a third family was successfully treated for acute myeloid leukemia. Overall, our study provides novel insights into the role of ETV6 as a driver of cytoskeletal regulatory gene expression during platelet production and the impact of variants resulting in platelets with altered size, shape and function and potentially also in changes in circulating progenitor levels.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Platelet, Leukemia, Cytoskeleton, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Thrombocytopenia


Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells with specificity for CD19 have shown promise in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It remains to be established whether chimeric antigen receptor T cells have clinical activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Two children with relapsed and refractory pre-B-cell ALL received infusions of T cells transduced with anti-CD19 antibody and a T-cell signaling molecule (CTL019 chimeric antigen receptor T cells), at a dose of 1.4×10(6) to 1.2×10(7) CTL019 cells per kilogram of body weight. In both patients, CTL019 T cells expanded to a level that was more than 1000 times as high as the initial engraftment level, and the cells were identified in bone marrow. In addition, the chimeric antigen receptor T cells were observed in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), where they persisted at high levels for at least 6 months. Eight grade 3 or 4 adverse events were noted. The cytokine-release syndrome and B-cell aplasia developed in both patients. In one child, the cytokine-release syndrome was severe; cytokine blockade with etanercept and tocilizumab was effective in reversing the syndrome and did not prevent expansion of chimeric antigen receptor T cells or reduce antileukemic efficacy. Complete remission was observed in both patients and is ongoing in one patient at 11 months after treatment. The other patient had a relapse, with blast cells that no longer expressed CD19, approximately 2 months after treatment. Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells are capable of killing even aggressive, treatment-refractory acute leukemia cells in vivo. The emergence of tumor cells that no longer express the target indicates a need to target other molecules in addition to CD19 in some patients with ALL.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Cancer, Bone marrow, B cell, Leukemia, Blood disorders, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia