Apoptosis is an essential biological process involved in tissue homeostasis and immunity. Aberrations of the two main apoptotic pathways, extrinsic and intrinsic, have been identified in hematological malignancies; many of these aberrations are associated with pathogenesis, prognosis and resistance to standard chemotherapeutic agents. Targeting components of the apoptotic pathways, especially the chief regulatory BCL-2 family in the intrinsic pathway, has proved to be a promising therapeutic approach for patients with hematological malignances, with the expectation of enhanced efficacy and reduced adverse events. Continuous investigations regarding the biological importance of each of the BCL-2 family components and the clinical rationale to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes, using either monotherapy or in combination with other targeted agents, have generated inspiring progress in the field. Genomic, epigenomic and biological analyses including BH3 profiling facilitate effective evaluation of treatment response, cancer recurrence and drug resistance. In this review, we summarize the biological features of each of the components in the BCL-2 apoptotic pathways, analyze the regulatory mechanisms and the pivotal roles of BCL-2 family members in the pathogenesis of major types of hematologic malignances, and evaluate the potential of apoptosis- and BCL-2-targeted strategies as effective approaches in anti-cancer therapies.
Monoclonal antibody-based targeted therapy has greatly improved treatment options for patients. However, long-term efficacy of such antibodies is limited by resistance mechanisms. New insights into the mechanisms by which tumors evade immune control have driven innovative therapeutic strategies to eliminate cancer by redirecting immune cells to tumors. Advances in protein engineering technology have generated multiple bispecific antibody (BsAb) formats capable of targeting multiple antigens as a single agent. Approval of two BsAb and three check point blocking mAbs represent a paradigm shift in the use of antibody constructs. Since BsAbs can directly target immune cells to tumors, drug resistance and severe adverse effects are much reduced. The wave of next generation "bispecific or multispecific antibodies" has advanced multiple candidates into ongoing clinical trials. In this review, we focus on preclinical and clinical studies in hematological malignancies as well as discuss reasons for the limited success of BsAbs against solid tumors.
Diagnostics of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) have recently been experiencing extensive modifications regarding the incorporation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) strategies into established diagnostic algorithms, classification and risk stratification systems, and minimal residual disease (MRD) detection. Considering the increasing arsenal of targeted therapies (e.g. FLT3 or IDH1/IDH2 inhibitors) for AML, timely and comprehensive molecular mutation screening has arrived in daily practice. Next-generation flow strategies allow for immunophenotypic minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring with very high sensitivity. At the same time, standard diagnostic tools such as cytomorphology or conventional cytogenetics remain cornerstones for the diagnostic workup of myeloid malignancies. Herein, we summarize the most recent advances and new trends for the diagnostics of AML and MDS, discuss the difficulties, which accompany the integration of these new methods and their results into daily routine, and aim to define the role hemato-oncologists may play in this new diagnostic era.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (Akt)/mechanistic target of rapamycin (PI3K/Akt/mTOR) pathway is amplified in 60-80% of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Since this complex pathway is crucial to cell functions such as growth, proliferation, and survival, inhibition of this pathway would be postulated to inhibit leukemia initiation and propagation. Inhibition of the mTORC1 pathway has met with limited success in AML due to multiple resistance mechanisms including direct insensitivity of the mTORC1 complex, feedback activation of the PI3k/Akt signaling network, insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) activation of PI3K, and others. This review explores the role of mTOR inhibition in AML, mechanisms of resistance, and means to improve outcomes through use of dual mTORC1/2 inhibitors or dual TORC/PI3K inhibitors. How these inhibitors interface with currently available therapies in AML will require additional preclinical experiments and conduct of well-designed clinical trials.
Hematological malignancies express high levels of CD47 as a mechanism of immune evasion. CD47-SIRP alpha triggers a cascade of events that inhibit phagocytosis. Preclinical research supports several models of antibody mediated blockade of CD47-SIRP alpha resulting in cell death signaling, phagocytosis of cells bearing stress signals, and priming of tumor-specific T cell responses. Four different antibody molecules designed to target the CD47-SIRP alpha interaction in malignancy are currently being studied in clinical trials: Hu5F9-G4, CC-90002, TTI-621, and ALX-148. Hu5F9-G4, a humanized anti-CD47 blocking antibody is currently being studied in four different Phase I trials. These studies may lay the groundwork for therapeutic bispecific antibodies. Bispecific antibody (CD2O-CD47SL) fusion of anti-CD20 (Rituximab) and anti-CD47 also demonstrated a synergistic effect against lymphoma in preclinical models. This review summarizes the large body of preclinical evidence and emerging clinical data supporting the use of antibodies designed to target the CD47-SIRP alpha interaction in leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a rare, aggressive and heterogeneous malignancy originating from T-cell precursors. The mechanisms of T-ALL pathogenesis related to non-protein coding part of the genome are currently intensively studied. miRNAs are short, non-coding molecules acting as negative regulators of gene expression which shape phenotype of cells in a complex and context-specific manner. miRNAs may act as oncogenes or tumor suppressors; several miRNAs have been related to drug resistance and treatment response in various malignancies. Here we present the review of the state-of-the-art knowledge on the role of miRNAs in T-ALL pathogenesis, with detailed overview of the studies reporting on miRNAs with oncogenic and tumor suppressor potential. We discuss whether miRNAs might be considered candidate biomarkers of prognosis in T-ALL and leukemia subtype specific markers. We also describe experimental approaches and a typical workflow applied in research on the involvement of miRNAs in oncogenesis.
Iron, although essential, is harmful in high amounts. Oxidative stress as a result of excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a prooxidative/antioxidative imbalance between ROS production and elimination, play a key role in cellular damage. There is evidence to support the role of ROS in the pathogenesis of a range of diseases including the myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and leukaemia. Oxidative stress seems to affect the self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation of haematopoietic stem cells and impair cell growth. Three aspects of these defective haemopoietic mechanisms may be associated with the activities of ROS: clonal evolution, haematological improvement and recovery of haemopoiesis after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). This review aims to provide haematologists with an overview of results from in vitro and murine models and preliminary clinical evidence on the diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications of the complex interactions between the haemopoietic niche, iron, oxidative stress and inadequate haemopoiesis.
Beta-thalassaemia causes defective haemoglobin synthesis leading to ineffective erythropoiesis, chronic haemolytic anaemia, and subsequent clinical complications. Blood transfusion and iron chelation allow long-term disease control, and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation offers a potential cure for some patients. Nonetheless, there are still many challenges in the management of beta-thalassaemia. The main treatment option for most patients is supportive care; furthermore, the long-term efficacy and safety of current therapeutic strategies are limited and adherence is suboptimal. An increasing understanding of the underlying molecular and cellular disease mechanisms plus an awareness of limitations of current management strategies are driving research into novel therapeutic options. Here we provide an overview of the current pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and global burden of beta-thalassaemia. We reflect on what has been achieved to date, describe the challenges associated with currently available therapy, and discuss how these issues might be addressed by novel therapeutic approaches in development.
The International Working Group (IWG) response criteria for acute myeloid leukemia, published in 2003, have remained the standard by which the efficacy of new drugs is measured in clinical trials. Over the last decade, concepts related to treatment response have been challenged by several factors; for example, the dissociation between early clinical response and survival outcome in older patients, the recognition that epigenetic and newer differentiating-agent therapies may produce delayed responses and also hematologic improvement' transfusion independence without a morphologic response, and evidence that remissions without minimal (or measurable) residual disease (MRD) may result in outcomes superior to those of morphologic remissions with persistent MRD. The evolving role of MRD status as a potential surrogate for predicting long-term survival has enhanced the clinical need to standardize and incorporate emerging technologies that enable deeper responses beyond those recognized by the IWG, and to pre-emptively identify patients at risk of early relapse. The potential for therapeutic interventions to erase MRD and alter the natural history represents an important and open research question. Reviewed here are some of the implications and challenges associated with establishing and incorporating new treatment response criteria, initially into clinical research, and eventually into real-world practice.
Immunoglobulins are used to prevent or reduce infection risk in primary immune deficiencies and in settings which exploit its anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects. Rigorous proof of immunoglobulin efficacy in persons with lympho-proliferative neoplasms, plasma cell myeloma, and persons receiving hematopoietic cell transplants is lacking despite many clinical trials. Further, there are few consensus guidelines or algorithms for use in these conditions. Rapid development of new therapies targeting B-cell signaling and survival pathways and increased use of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy will likely result in more acquired deficiencies of humoral immunity and infections in persons with cancer. We review immunoglobulin formulations and discuss efficacy and potential adverse effects in the context of preventing infections and in graft-versus-host disease. We suggest an algorithm for evaluating acquired deficiencies of humoral immunity in persons with hematologic neoplasms and recommend appropriate use of immunoglobulin therapy.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common adult leukemia in the world. Patient with CLL are at particular risk for infections due to inherent disease-related immune dysfunction in addition to the effect of certain systemic therapies on the immune system. The advent of B-cell receptor (BCR) inhibitors such as ibrutinib and idelalisib has led to a practice change that utilizes these targeted agents in the treatment of CLL, either in place of chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) or in later line settings. In this paper, we review the pathophysiology of immune dysfunction in CLL, the spectrum of immunodeficiency with the various therapeutic agents along with prevention strategies with a focus on targeted therapies.
Excess iron can be extremely toxic for the body and may cause organ damage in the absence of iron chelation therapy. Preclinical studies on the role of free iron on bone marrow function have shown that iron toxicity leads to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, affects the expression of genes coding for proteins that regulate hematopoiesis, and disrupts hematopoiesis. These effects could be partially attenuated by iron-chelation treatment with deferasirox, suggesting iron toxicity may have a negative impact on the hematopoietic micro environment. Iron toxicity is of concern in transfusion-dependent patients. Importantly, iron chelation with deferasirox can cause the loss of transfusion dependency and may induce hematological responses, although the mechanisms through which deferasirox exerts this action are currently unknown. This review will focus on the possible mechanisms of toxicity of free iron at the bone marrow level and in the bone marrow microenvironment.
Lymphomas cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide.. A substantial number of patients ultimately relapse after standard treatment. However, the efficacy of these therapies can be counteracted by the patients' immune system, more specifically by myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). MDSC are a heterogeneous group of immature myeloid cells that suppress the innate and adaptive immune system via different mechanisms and accumulate under pathological conditions, such as cancer. MDSC play a role in the induction and progression of cancer and immune evasion. Increased numbers of MDSC have been reported in different lymphoma subtypes and are associated with a poor clinical outcome. This review aims to clarify the role of MDSC and their working mechanism in different lymphoma subtypes. Furthermore, the effect of MDSC on immunotherapies will be discussed.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common leukaemia with infections a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Recently there has been a paradigm shift from the use of chemo-immunotherapies to agents targeting specific B-lymphocyte pathways. These agents include ibrutinib, idelalisib and venetoclax. In this review, the risks and timing of infections associated with these agents are described, taking into account disease and treatment status. Treatment with ibrutinib as monotherapy or in combination with chemo-immunotherapies is not associated with additional risk for infection. In contrast, the use of idelalisib is associated with a 2-fold risk for severe infection and opportunistic infections. Venetoclax does not appear to be associated with additional infection risk. The evolving spectrum of pathogens responsible infections in CLL patients, especially those with relapsed and refractory disease are described, and prevention strategies (prophylaxis, monitoring and vaccination) are proposed.
Nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1) is a nucleolar phosphoprotein that performs diverse biological functions including molecular chaperoning, ribosome biogenesis, DNA repair, and genome stability. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease, more than half of the AML cases exhibit normal karyotype (NK). Approximately 50-60 percent of patients with NK-AML carry NPM1 mutations which are characterized by cytoplasmic dislocation of the NPM1 protein. In AML, mutant NPM1 (NPM1c +) acts in a dominant negative fashion and also blocks the differentiation of myeloid cells through gain-of-function for the AML phenotype. Currently, there is limited knowledge on the gain-of-function mechanism of mutant NPM1. Here, we review the known mechanisms of mutant NPM1 in the pathogenesis of AML. We describe genetic abnormalities, the clinical significance of exon-12 mutations in the NPM1 gene, and chromosomal translocations including the recently discovered NPM1-TYK2, and NPM1-HAUS1. Also, we outline the possible therapeutic interventions for the treatment of AML by targeting NPM1. Overall, the review will summarize present knowledge on mutant NPM1 origin, pathogenesis, and therapy in AML.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm, the incidence of which increases with age. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TMs) are the mainstay of CML treatment, including imatinib, nilotinib, dasatinib, bosutinib, and ponatinib. Beyond matching patient disease profiles with TKI specificity, differences in the efficacy and toxicity profiles and a patients comorbid risk factors should be considered when selecting the most appropriate agent. Our objectives are to review the incidence and severity of cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary disorders associated with these TKIs, highlighting differences in adverse event profiles, suggested risk-mitigation strategies, and guidance for TKI selection in different settings. Patients receiving TM agents for CML should be monitored for signs and symptoms of toxicity throughout therapy. Preemptive assessment, early toxicity recognition, and prompt management of cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary toxicities can minimize treatment-limiting complications and improve outcomes in patients with CML.
Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are indicated in the treatment and prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE). However, the use of DOACs in unusual VTE, including cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) and splanchnic venous thrombosis (SVT), and in patients with biological thrombophilia including minor thrombophilia (Factor V Leiden and prothrombin G20210A), major innate thrombophilia (protein C and S deficiency, and antithrombin) and major acquired thrombophilia (antiphospholipid syndrome [APS]), remains controversial due to the paucity of available data. There are some reports of DOACs use in the initial treatment or long-term maintenance of patients with either CVT or SVT, but their efficacy remains unclear. The efficacy of DOACs may be suitable in patients with biological minor or major thrombophilia. The use of DOACs for the long-term maintenance of patients with APS is more contentious. Randomized clinical trials, which are currently underway, should offer definitive insight into the efficacy and safety profiles of DOACs in these patient populations.
Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare and aggressive brain tumor. The prognosis is poor, with high rates of relapse and disease progression after treatment. In addition, PCNSL affects a largely older population, so that a significant proportion of patients are ineligible for intensive therapies and high-dose chemotherapy. The elderly patients are also susceptible to the accelerated and detrimental cognitive side effects of whole-brain irradiation which is an alternative consolidation to high-dose chemotherapy. Maintenance therapy has been shown to be a promising strategy to prolong remission time in other hematopoietic malignancies. Herein, we discuss the place of maintenance treatment in PCNSL in view of perspective obtained from hematological malignancies and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a heterogeneous group of hemopathies that exhibit physical manifestations with clinical consequences of bone marrow failure and inherent risk of progression to acute myeloid leukemia. Iron overload (10) is common in MDS due to chronic transfusion support and disease-related alterations in iron metabolism. 10 has been conclusively associated with inferior outcomes among MDS patients. Despite lack of randomized trials showing a survival impact of iron chelation therapy (ICT), ICT is recommended by experts and guidelines for select MDS patients with IO and is often used. The availability of effective oral ICT agents has reignited the controversy regarding ICT use in patients with MDS and IO. Here we summarize the studies evaluating the value of ICT in MDS and suggest a practical approach for use of these therapies. We also highlight controversies regarding use of ICT in MDS and discuss some ongoing efforts to answer these questions.