The multi-center phase 2 study, led by study chair Dr. Jia Ruan, was initiated in 2011 and previously reported early efficacy in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and 5-year follow-up results in Blood, which was highly effective with an overall response rate (ORR) of 92%, and complete response (CR) of 64%. It was also well tolerated, with durable responses, including the 5-year progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of 64% and 77% respectively. Dr. Samuel Yamshon, a second-year hematology and medical oncology fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital led the oral presentation of the 7-year follow up analysis at this year’s ASH meeting.
The study treatment is conveniently administered in the outpatient setting, with the oral agent lenalidomide given on days 1-21 of a 28-day cycle and rituximab provided once very other cycle during maintenance. The treatment continues until progression of disease, with an option to stop therapy after 3 years of remission.
A total of 38 clinical trial participants were enrolled at four participating centers across the United States. Of the 36 evaluable patients, 19 (53%) of the patients remain in remission, including 12 (33%) beyond 7 years. Of the patients in remission, 10 remain on treatment, while 9 patients in remission opted to stop therapy after at least 3 years of study treatment due to side effects or patient preference. The median progression free survival (PFS) and duration of response have not been reached. The 7-year PFS rate was estimated at 60%, and 7-year OS rates at 73%. With long-term maintenance treatment, there were no new safety concerns, and close follow up limited toxicity for those who wished to remain on therapy.
The long-term outcome of the lenalidomide plus rituximab regimen represents a major stride in the treatment and care of MCL patients – a population of patients who harbor a rare and generally incurable disease where intensive chemotherapy regimens do not necessarily translate into cure and may not be tolerated by all. It is notable that this combination therapy offers a chemotherapy-free initial treatment approach that compares favorably in outcome to conventional chemotherapy-based regimens such as bendamustine-rituximab, VR-CAP, and R-CHOP with rituximab maintenance. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has incorporated this evidence into their treatment guidelines for MCL patients. The Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program researchers concluded that the evaluation of this active regimen in larger, randomized frontline trials comparing novel agents with chemoimmunotherapy is warranted.
Today, at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Hematology Society (ASH), the Weill Cornell Medicine T-cell lymphoma research team reported the outcome of the first phase 2 study evaluating the novel combination of oral azacitidine plus CHOP as initial treatment for patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL).
This multi-center phase 2 study, led by Dr. Jia Ruan, is the first of its kind to incorporate epigenetic priming with a hypomethylating agent in the frontline setting as a chemo-sensitizing strategy for PTCL.
The study enrolled 21 PTCL patients, with the majority of them (17 patients) having the diagnosis of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, also known as PTCL with T-follicular helper phenotype (PTCL-TFH). This phenotype is known to have recurrent genetic mutations in epigenetic regulation, providing therapeutic targets for hypomethylating agents such as azacitidine. During study treatment, the patients received CHOP on day 1 of each cycle for 6 cycles, while oral azacitidine was given for 7 days prior to CHOP cycle 1, and for 14 days before CHOP cycles 2-6. The primary study objective was to see if the novel combination would improve complete response rates following 6 cycles of treatment.
The study treatment was well tolerated with expected side effects associated with CHOP chemotherapy. Eighteen patients were able to complete all 6 cycles of treatment without the need for chemotherapy dose reduction. Ten patients underwent successful stem cell transplant while in remission. Complete remission (CR) was achieved in 75% of clinical trial participants at the end of 6 cycles of treatment, exceeding the pre-determined efficacy threshold (60%) to declare the treatment as effective. Notably, within the subgroup of patients with the PTCL-TFH subtype, the treatment appears to work even better with a CR rate of 88%. The one-year progression-free survival (PFS) for all patients was 66%, and for the PTCL-TFH subgroup was 70%. The one-year overall survival (OS) for all patients was 81% and PTCL-TFH patients 94%. The research team is further analyzing sequencing biomarkers to correlate with response and survival.
This study provides the first demonstration that the addition of epigenetic hypomethylating agent oral azacitidine (CC486) to CHOP as initial therapy is safe, and highly effective to induce complete remission in PTCL. This combination will be further evaluated in the upcoming ALLIANCE/Intergroup randomized study A051902, comparing oral azacitidine-CHO(E)P with duvelisib-CHO(E)P against CHO(E)P in CD30 negative PTCL.
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the world’s largest professional society serving clinicians and scientists who work to conquer blood diseases. This year the 62nd ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition – the premier conference in malignant and non-malignant hematology – will bring together approximately 25,000 hematology professionals from around the world virtually.
As always, our team is proud to contribute new lymphoma discoveries for presentation at the meeting. We’ll be covering the conference research updates on our social media channels and here on our blog throughout the duration of the meeting.
Dr. Peter Martin, Chief of the Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program shares some personal thoughts regarding the 2020 ASH Annual Meeting.
While it’s impossible to ignore the trauma that accompanied the year 2020, every December brings a display of the hopes and efforts of thousands of international researchers presenting their data at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). I’m so proud to say that research is alive and well in the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Over the next 3 days, our team of physicians and scientists will be presenting ground breaking research on the world’s top stage. Min Xia, PhD has the distinction of being selected to deliver a presentation in the ASH Plenary Session, the forum for the top 6 research abstracts of the entire conference. Dr. Ari Melnick is being honored for his work in epigenetics and will be delivering the prestigious Ernest Buetler lecture. We have numerous oral and poster presentations, including several from our fellows, residents, and medical students — the future leaders of our field.
Peter Martin, MD, MS
Additionally, Dr. John Leonard continued his #LeonardList tradition of selecting 10 noteworthy lymphoma abstracts leading up to the meeting. In addition to posting his selections on Twitter, he discussed this research in detail in the third-annual Leonard List CancerCast Podcast episode – with 5 bonus podcast-only abstracts. Dr. Leonard selects this research from all the lymphoma-related abstracts, looking at both oral and poster sessions.