The adoptive transfer of CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor engineered T cells (CAR T cells) resulted in encouraging clinical trials in indolent B-cell malignancies. However, they also show the limitations of this fascinating technology: CAR T cells can lead to even life-threatening off-tumor, on-target side effects if CAR T cells crossreact with healthy tissues. Here, we describe a novel modular universal CAR platform technology termed UniCAR that reduces the risk of on-target side effects by a rapid and reversible control of CAR T-cell reactivity. The UniCAR system consists of two components: (1) a CAR for an inert manipulation of T cells and (2) specific targeting modules (TMs) for redirecting UniCAR T cells in an individualized time-and target-dependent manner. UniCAR T cells can be armed against different tumor targets simply by replacement of the respective TM for (1) targeting more than one antigen simultaneously or subsequently to enhance efficacy and (2) reducing the risk for development of antigen-loss tumor variants under treatment. Here we provide 'proof of concept' for retargeting of UniCAR T cells to CD33-and/or CD123-positive acute myeloid leukemia blasts in vitro and in vivo.
Mutations involving epigenetic regulators (TET2 similar to 60% and ASXL1 similar to 40%) and splicing components (SRSF2 similar to 50%) are frequent in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). On a 27-gene targeted capture panel performed on 175 CMML patients (66% males, median age 70 years), common mutations included: TET2 46%, ASXL1 47%, SRSF2 45% and SETBP1 19%. A total of 172 (98%) patients had at least one mutation, 21 (12%) had 2, 24 (14%) had 3 and 30 (17%) had 43 mutations. In a univariate analysis, the presence of ASXL1 mutations (P = 0.02) and the absence of TET2 mutations (P = 0.03), adversely impacted survival; while the number of concurrent mutations had no impact (P = 0.3). In a multivariable analysis that included hemoglobin, platelet count, absolute monocyte count and circulating immature myeloid cells (Mayo model), the presence of ASXL1 mutations (P = 0.01) and absence of TET2 mutations (P = 0.003) retained prognostic significance. Patients were stratified into four categories: ASXL1wt/TET2wt (n = 56), ASXL1mut/TET2wt (n = 31), ASXL1mut/TET2mut (n = 50) and ASXL1wt/TET2mut (n = 38). Survival data demonstrated a significant difference in favor of ASXL1wt/TET2mut (38 months; P = 0.016), compared with those with ASXL1wt/TET2wt (19 months), ASXL1mut/TET2wt (21 months) and ASXL1mut/TET2mut (16 months) (P = 0.3). We confirm the negative prognostic impact imparted by ASXL1 mutations and suggest a favorable impact from TET2 mutations in the absence of ASXL1 mutations.
As a population, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cell lines positive for the t(14;18) translocation and/or possessing elevated BCL2 copy number (CN; BCL2(High)) are exquisitely sensitive to navitoclax or the B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (BCL-2)-selective inhibitor venetoclax. Despite this, some BCL2(High) cell lines remain resistant to either agent. Here we show that the MCL-1-specific inhibitor A-1210477 sensitizes these cell lines to navitoclax. Chemical segregation of this synergy with the BCL-2-selective inhibitor venetoclax or BCL-X-L-selective inhibitor A-1155463 indicated that MCL-1 and BCL-2 are the two key anti-apoptotic targets for sensitization. Similarly, the CDK inhibitor flavopiridol downregulated MCL-1 expression and synergized with venetoclax in BCL2(High) NHL cell lines to a similar extent as A-1210477. A-1210477 also synergized with navitoclax in the majority of BCL2(Low) NHL cell lines. However, chemical segregation with venetoclax or A-1155463 revealed that synergy was driven by BCL-X-L inhibition in this population. Collectively these data emphasize that BCL2 status is predictive of venetoclax potency in NHL not only as a single agent, but also in the adjuvant setting with anti-tumorigenic agents that inhibit MCL-1 function. These studies also potentially identify a patient population (BCL2(Low)) that could benefit from BCL-X-L (navitoclax)-driven combination therapy.
Carfilzomib (Cfz) has been associated with an similar to 5% incidence of unexplained and unpredictable cardiovascular toxicity in clinical trials. We therefore implemented a detailed, prospective, clinical cardiac and renal evaluation of 62 Cfz-treated myeloma patients, including serial blood pressure (BP), creatinine, troponin, NT-proBNP and pre-and post-treatment echocardiograms, including ejection fraction (EF), average global longitudinal strain and compliance. Pre-treatment elevations in NT-proBNP and BP, as well as abnormal cardiac strain were common. A rise in NT-proBNP occurred frequently post-treatment often without corresponding cardiopulmonary symptoms. A rise in creatinine was common, lessened with hydration and often reversible. All patients had a normal EF pre-treatment. Five patients experienced a significant cardiac event (four decline in EF and one myocardial infarction), of which 2 (3.2%) were considered probably attributable to Cfz. None were rechallenged with Cfz. The ideal strategy for identifying patients at risk for cardiac events, and parameters by which to monitor for early toxicity have not been established; however, it appears baseline echocardiographic testing is not consistently predictive of toxicity. The toxicities observed suggest an endothelial mechanism and further clinical trials are needed to determine whether or not this represents a class effect or is Cfz specific.
We compared outcomes from a single-arm study of blinatumomab in adult patients with B-precursor Ph-negative relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (R/R ALL) with a historical data set from Europe and the United States. Estimates of complete remission (CR) and overall survival (OS) were weighted by the frequency distribution of prognostic factors in the blinatumomab trial. Outcomes were also compared between the trial and historical data using propensity score methods. The historical cohort included 694 patients with CR data and 1112 patients with OS data compared with 189 patients with CR and survival data in the blinatumomab trial. The weighted analysis revealed a CR rate of 24% (95% CI: 20-27%) and a median OS of 3.3 months (95% CI: 2.8-3.6) in the historical cohort compared with a CR/CRh rate of 43% (95% CI: 36-50%) and a median OS of 6.1 months (95% CI: 4.2-7.5) in the blinatumomab trial. Propensity score analysis estimated increased odds of CR/CRh (OR = 2.68, 95% CI: 1.67-4.31) and improved OS (HR = 0.536, 95% CI: 0.394-0.730) with blinatumomab. The analysis demonstrates the application of different study designs and statistical methods to compare novel therapies for R/R ALL with historical data.
Recent studies revealed that a substantial proportion of patients with high-risk B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) harbor fusions involving tyrosine kinase and cytokine receptors, such as ABL1, PDGFRB, JAK2 and CRLF2, which are targeted by tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). In the present study, transcriptome analysis or multiplex reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis of 373 BCP-ALL patients without recurrent genetic abnormalities identified 29 patients with kinase fusions. Clinically, male predominance (male/female: 22/7), older age at onset (mean age at onset: 8.8 years) and a high white blood cell count at diagnosis (mean: 94 200/mu l) reflected the predominance of National Cancer Institute high-risk (NCI-HR) patients (NCI-standard risk/HR: 8/21). Genetic analysis identified three patients with ABL1 rearrangements, eight with PDGFRB rearrangements, two with JAK2 rearrangements, three with IgH-EPOR and one with NCOR1-LYN. Of the 14 patients with CRLF2 rearrangements, two harbored IgH-EPOR and PDGFRB rearrangements. IKZF1 deletion was present in 16 of the 22 patients. The 5-year event-free and overall survival rates were 48.6 +/- 9.7% and 73.5 +/- 8.6%, respectively. The outcome was not satisfactory without sophisticated minimal residual disease-based stratification. Furthermore, the efficacy of TKIs combined with conventional chemotherapy without allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in this cohort should be determined.
Genomic lesions are not investigated during routine diagnostic workup for multiple myeloma (MM). Cytogenetic studies are performed to assess prognosis but with limited impact on therapeutic decisions. Recently, several recurrently mutated genes have been described, but their clinical value remains to be defined. Therefore, clinical-grade strategies to investigate the genomic landscape of myeloma samples are needed to integrate new and old prognostic markers. We developed a target-enrichment strategy followed by next-generation sequencing (NGS) to streamline simultaneous analysis of gene mutations, copy number changes and immunoglobulin heavy chain (IGH) translocations in MM in a high-throughput manner, and validated it in a panel of cell lines. We identified 548 likely oncogenic mutations in 182 genes. By integrating published data sets of NGS in MM, we retrieved a list of genes with significant relevance to myeloma and found that the mutational spectrum of primary samples and MM cell lines is partially overlapping. Gains and losses of chromosomes, chromosomal segments and gene loci were identified with accuracy comparable to conventional arrays, allowing identification of lesions with known prognostic significance. Furthermore, we identified IGH translocations with high positive and negative predictive value. Our approach could allow the identification of novel biomarkers with clinical relevance in myeloma.
In a phase 3 trial of denosumab vs zoledronic acid in patients (n= 1776) with bone metastases and solid tumors or multiple myeloma, denosumab was superior to zoledronic acid for the primary end point of prevention of skeletal-related events. There was no difference in overall survival between the two groups; however, an ad hoc overall survival analysis in the multiple myeloma subset of patients (n= 180) favored zoledronic acid (hazard ratio (HR) 2.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13-4.50; P = 0.014). In the present analysis, we found imbalances between the groups with respect to baseline risk characteristics. HRs with two-sided 95% CIs were estimated using the Cox model. After adjustment in a covariate analysis, the CI crossed unity (HR 1.86; 95% CI 0.90-3.84; P = 0.0954). Furthermore, we found a higher rate of early withdrawals for the reasons of lost to follow-up and withdrawal of consent in the zoledronic acid group; after accounting for these, the HR was 1.31 (95% CI 0.80-2.15; P = 0.278). In conclusion, the survival results in multiple myeloma patients in this trial were confounded and will eventually be resolved by an ongoing phase 3 trial.
We employed a customized Multiple Myeloma (MM)-specific Mutation Panel ((MP)-P-3) to screen a homogenous cohort of 142 untreated MM patients for relevant mutations in a selection of disease-specific genes. M(3)Pv2.0 includes 77 genes selected for being either actionable targets, potentially related to drug-response or part of known key pathways in MM biology. We identified mutations in potentially actionable genes in 49% of patients and provided prognostic evidence of STAT3 mutations. This panel may serve as a practical alternative to more comprehensive sequencing approaches, providing genomic information in a timely and cost-effective manner, thus allowing clinically oriented variant screening in MM.
We retrospectively studied 181 patients with polycythaemia vera (n = 67), essential thrombocythaemia (n= 67) or primary myelofibrosis (n = 47), who presented a first episode of splanchnic vein thrombosis (SVT). Budd-Chiari syndrome (BCS) and portal vein thrombosis were diagnosed in 31 (17.1%) and 109 (60.3%) patients, respectively; isolated thrombosis of the mesenteric or splenic veins was detected in 18 and 23 cases, respectively. After this index event, the patients were followed for 735 patient years (pt-years) and experienced 31 recurrences corresponding to an incidence rate of 4.2 per 100 pt-years. Factors associated with a significantly higher risk of recurrence were BCS (hazard ratio (HR): 3.03), history of previous thrombosis (HR: 3.62), splenomegaly (HR: 2.66) and leukocytosis (HR: 2.8). Vitamin K-antagonists (VKA) were prescribed in 85% of patients and the recurrence rate was 3.9 per 100 pt-years, whereas in the small fraction (15%) not receiving VKA more recurrences (7.2 per 100 pt-years) were reported. Intracranial and extracranial major bleeding was recorded mainly in patients on VKA and the corresponding rate was 2.0 per 100 pt-years. In conclusion, despite anticoagulation treatment, the recurrence rate after SVT in myeloproliferative neoplasms is high and suggests the exploration of new avenues of secondary prophylaxis with new antithrombotic drugs and JAK-2 inhibitors.
We have carried out the largest randomised trial to date of newly diagnosed myeloma patients, in which lenalidomide has been used as an induction and maintenance treatment option and here report its impact on second primary malignancy (SPM) incidence and pathology. After review, 104 SPMs were confirmed in 96 of 2732 trial patients. The cumulative incidence of SPM was 0.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4-1.0%), 2.3% (95% CI 1.6-2.7%) and 3.8% (95% CI 2.9-4.6%) at 1, 2 and 3 years, respectively. Patients receiving maintenance lenalidomide had a significantly higher SPM incidence overall (P = 0.011). Age is a risk factor with the highest SPM incidence observed in transplant non-eligible patients aged >74 years receiving lenalidomide maintenance. The 3-year cumulative incidence in this group was 17.3% (95% CI 8.2-26.4%), compared with 6.5% (95% CI 0.2-12.9%) in observation only patients (P = 0.049). There was a low overall incidence of haematological SPM (0.5%). The higher SPM incidence in patients receiving lenalidomide maintenance therapy, especially in advanced age, warrants ongoing monitoring although the benefit on survival is likely to outweigh risk.
The objective was to evaluate the prognostic impact of pre-transplant minimal residual disease (MRD) as determined by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 67 adult NPM1-mutated acute myeloid leukemia patients receiving allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Twenty-eight of the 67 patients had a FLT3-ITD (42%). Median age at transplantation was 54.7 years, median follow-up for survival from time of allografting was 4.9 years. At transplantation, 31 patients were in first, 20 in second complete remission (CR) and 16 had refractory disease (RD). Pre-transplant NPM1 MRD levels were measured in 39 CR patients. Overall survival (OS) for patients transplanted in CR was significantly longer as compared to patients with RD (P = 0.004), irrespective of whether the patients were transplanted in first or second CR (P = 0.74). There was a highly significant difference in OS after allogeneic HSCT between pre-transplant MRD-positive and MRD-negative patients (estimated 5-year OS rates of 40 vs 89%; P = 0.007). Multivariable analyses on time to relapse and OS revealed pre-transplant NPM1 MRD levels > 1% as an independent prognostic factor for poor survival after allogeneic HSCT, whereas FLT3-ITD had no impact. Notably, outcome of patients with pre-transplant NPM1 MRD positivity > 1% was as poor as that of patients transplanted with RD.
Current guidelines recommend consolidation with autologous stem cell transplantation (autoSCT) after induction chemotherapy for most patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL). This assumption is based on five prospective phase II studies, three of which included <50 patients with limited follow-up. Here we present the final analysis of the prospective German study. The treatment regimen consisted of four to six cycles of CHOP chemotherapy followed by mobilizing therapy and stem cell collection. Patients in complete remission (CR) or partial remission (PR) underwent myeloablative chemo(radio) therapy and autoSCT. From January 2001 to July 2010, 111 patients were enrolled in the study. The main subgroups were PTCL not specified (n=42) and angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (n=37). Seventy-five (68%) of the 111 patients received transplantation. The main reason for not receiving autoSCT was progressive disease. In an intent-to-treat analysis, the complete response rate after myeloablative therapy was 59%. The estimated 5-year overall survival, disease-free survival and progression-free survival rates were 44%, 54% and 39%, respectively. The results of this study confirm that upfront autoSCT can result in long-term remissions in patients with all major subtypes of PTCL and therefore should be part of first-line therapy whenever possible.
Cytogenetic evaluation at the time of diagnosis is essential for risk stratification in multiple myeloma, however little is known about the occurrence and prognostic significance of cytogenetic evolution during follow-up. We studied 989 patients with multiple myeloma, including 304 patients with at least two cytogenetic evaluations. Multivariable-adjusted regression models were used to assess the associations between the parameters of interest and cytogenetic evolution as well as overall survival. The prognostic significance of baseline cytogenetic abnormalities was most pronounced at the time of diagnosis and attenuated over time. In the patients with serial cytogenetic evaluations, the presence of t(11; 14) at the time of diagnosis was associated with decreased odds of cytogenetic evolution during follow-up (odds ratio (OR) = 0.22, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.09-0.56, P = 0.001), while the presence of at least one trisomy or tetrasomy was associated with increased odds (OR = 2.96, 95% CI = 1.37-6.42, P = 0.006). The development of additional abnormalities during the 3 years following diagnosis was associated with increased subsequent mortality (hazard ratio = 3.31, 95% CI = 1.73-6.30, P < 0.001). These findings emphasize the importance of the underlying clonal disease process for risk assessment and suggest that selected patients may benefit from repeated risk stratification.
Infections are an important cause for morbidity and mortality in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We therefore characterized infectious complications in children treated according to the trial AML-BFM 2004. Patients with Down syndrome were excluded from the analysis. Data were gathered from the medical records in the hospital where the patients were treated. A total of 405 patients (203 girls; median age 8.4 years) experienced 1326 infections. Fever without identifiable source occurred in 56.1% of the patients and clinically and microbiologically documented infections in 17.5% and 32.4% of the patients, respectively. In all, 240 Gram-positive (112 viridans group streptococci) and 90 Gram-negative isolates were recovered from the bloodstream. Invasive fungal infection was diagnosed in 3% of the patients. Three children each died of Gram-negative bacteremia and invasive aspergillosis, respectively. As compared with the results of AML-BFM 93 with lower dose intensity, infection-related morbidity was slightly higher in AML-BFM 2004 (3.3. versus 2.8 infections per patient), whereas infection-related mortality significantly decreased (1.5% versus 5.4%; P=0.003). Specific anti-infective recommendations included in the treatment protocol, regular training courses for pediatric hematologists and increasing experience may be the reason for reduced infection-related mortality in children with AML. Further studies are needed to decrease infection-related morbidity.
Infections are an important cause for morbidity and mortality in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We therefore characterized infectious complications in children treated according to the trial AML-BFM 2004. Patients with Down syndrome were excluded from the analysis. Data were gathered from the medical records in the hospital where the patients were treated. A total of 405 patients (203 girls; median age 8.4 years) experienced 1326 infections. Fever without identifiable source occurred in 56.1% of the patients and clinically and microbiologically documented infections in 17.5% and 32.4% of the patients, respectively. In all, 240 Gram-positive (112 viridans group streptococci) and 90 Gram-negative isolates were recovered from the bloodstream. Invasive fungal infection was diagnosed in 3% of the patients. Three children each died of Gram-negative bacteremia and invasive aspergillosis, respectively. As compared with the results of AML-BFM 93 with lower dose intensity, infection-related morbidity was slightly higher in AML-BFM 2004 (3.3. versus 2.8 infections per patient), whereas infection-related mortality significantly decreased (1.5% versus 5.4%; P = 0.003). Specific anti-infective recommendations included in the treatment protocol, regular training courses for pediatric hematologists and increasing experience may be the reason for reduced infection-related mortality in children with AML. Further studies are needed to decrease infection-related morbidity.
We studied 190 patients with smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) at our institution between 1973 and 2014. Evolving change in monoclonal protein level (eMP) was defined as >= 10% increase in serum monoclonal protein (M) and/or immunoglobulin (Ig) (M/Ig) within the first 6 months of diagnosis (only if M-protein >= 3 g/dl) and/or >= 25% increase in M/Ig within the first 12 months, with a minimum required increase of 0.5 g/dl in M-protein and/or 500 mg/dl in Ig. Evolving change in hemoglobin (eHb) was defined as >= 0.5 g/dl decrease within 12 months of diagnosis. A total of 134 patients (70.5%) progressed to MM over a median follow-up of 10.4 years. On multivariable analysis adjusting for factors known to predict for progression to MM, bone marrow plasma cells >= 20% (odds ratio (OR) = 3.37 (1.30-8.77), P = 0.013), eMP (OR = 8.20 (3.19-21.05), P < 0.001) and eHb (OR = 5.86 (2.12-16.21), P = 0.001) were independent predictors of progression within 2 years of SMM diagnosis. A risk model comprising these variables was constructed, with median time to progression of 12.3, 5.1, 2.0 and 1.0 years among patients with 0-3 risk factors respectively. The 2-year progression risk was 81.5% in individuals who demonstrated both eMP and eHb, and 90.5% in those with all three risk factors.