Multi-Center Phase II Study of Oral Azacitidine (CC-486) Plus CHOP As Initial Treatment for Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma (PTCL)

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.

Abstract 40: Multi-Center Phase II Study of Oral Azacitidine (CC-486) Plus CHOP As Initial Treatment for Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma (PTCL)

Type: Oral presentation
Session: 624. Hodgkin Lymphoma and T/NK Cell Lymphoma—Clinical Studies: Clinical Studies in T/NK Cell Lymphoma
Saturday, December 5, 2020: 7:45 AM PST

ASH 2020 Weill Cornell Medicine Lymphoma Program research coverages continues throughout the conference.

Global Collaboration: Lymphoma Researchers Attend Workshop at Shanghai Institute of Hematology

In early July, several researchers from the Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian (WCM/NYP) Lymphoma Program traveled to Shanghai, China to participate in the first Lymphoma Research Workshop, jointly sponsored by WCM/NYP and Shanghai Institute of Hematology (SIH). The workshop aimed to foster clinical and translational research exchange and collaboration, with the goal of further global alliance with leading Chinese institutions.

Our own Drs. Leandro Cerchietti, Peter Martin, Ari Melnick, Kristy Richards, and Jia Ruan were in attendance. Drs. Melnick and Ruan co-organized the workshop with Drs. Saijuan Chen and Weili Zhao from SIH. SIH and its affiliated Ruijin Hospital (RJH) is a leader in human genomics and lymphoma research in China.

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Dr. Ari Melnick (Left) and Dr. Jia Ruan

Dr. Melnick began by introducing the lymphoma research missions at WCM/NYP and provided an overview of our translational program, which integrates state-of-the-art genetic, epigenetic, and proteomic approaches to study lymphoma pathogenesis and inform development of mechanism-based therapeutics.

Dr. Zhao followed with a review of the recent lymphoma program developments at Ruijin Hospital, which focuses on building a multi-disciplinary diagnosis and treatment team. RJH’s translational development has been aimed at building a lymphoma biobank, next-generation sequencing, system biology, and biomarker investigations to support clinical research.

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Dr. Peter Martin (Left) and Dr. Leandro Cerchietti

On the project level, Dr. Cerchietti discussed bench-to-bedside translation of epigenetic modifying agents, such as novel treatments that sensitize chemotherapy responses in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Dr. Martin then provided a comprehensive overview of the management approach for DLBCL in the U.S., reviewing important study design and findings of DLBCL clinical trials that incorporated novel agents, including epigenetic modifiers. Dr. Richards spoke about promises and challenges in canine lymphoma research in both the disease and drug development models.

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Dr. Kristy Richards

Additionally, Dr. Pengpeng Xu from RJH presented preliminary data of a phase 1 study using an epigenetic hypomethylating agent in combination with chemotherapy for DLBCL patients. This joint clinical project developed from the two institutions’ shared translational interest and expertise in exploring therapeutic potential of epigenetic agents in lymphoma.

Drs. Ruan and Melnick concluded the workshop by thanking the hosts at the Shanghai Institute of Hematology and Ruijin Hospital for their gracious hospitality. Faculty from both institutions are impressed by the progress of the ongoing collaboration and support further development of translational and clinical projects in the future, including academic exchange and joint translational and clinical trials.

 

Is Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Hereditary?

Patients often question whether various lymphoma types run in families, concerned that their own diagnosis may indicate cancer risk for their loved ones, as well. When an inquiry regarding the possibility of genetic predisposition in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) recently came through our clinic, we sat down with expert Jia Ruan, MD, PhD, to break down what we know and what we don’t know about the cause of this rare and complex condition.Dr. Ruan at computer

T-cell lymphomas are a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma caused by abnormal growth of mature T-cell lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell found in the immune system. In healthy people, T-cell lymphocytes are responsible for attacking foreign antigens and viruses, and aiding B-cell lymphocytes in antibody production – but by the process of clonal evolution, the T-cell lymphocytes mutate and produce abnormal offspring that become lymphoma. When T-cell lymphomas affect the skin, they are known as cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL).

The most common subtype of CTCL, mycosis fungoides (MF), occurs when malignant cells develop from CD4+CD45RO+ T-lymphocytes and migrate to the skin. Symptoms include scaly and itchy rash-like patches that may thicken over time and develop into a plaque or a tumor. If the cancer then makes its way from the skin to the lymphatic and blood system, MF becomes the more aggressive Sézary syndrome (SS). MF patients with limited skin symptoms do very well with skin-directed treatment, such as light therapy and topical medicines including steroids, while those with more extensive skin involvement or SS often require systemic treatment.

Although mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are the most common types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, they are still quite rare, occurring in only 4-5 percent of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases, with about 3,000 new diagnoses per year. The median age at diagnosis is 50-70, with a prevalence in men and African Americans.

It is in part due to their rarity that doctors and researchers have yet to understand what causes MF/SS. While there is no definitive evidence of familial risk of CTCL, scientists are continually evaluating whether genetics play a role in the disease formation.

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes, which enable the immune system to discern between proteins native and foreign to the body, possess specific variations, or alleles, that are inherited via the family germline and passed through generations. When a certain HLA class II allele (specifically DQB1*04) was measured in a study of six families, each with occurrences of mycosis fungoides in two first-degree relatives, researchers found the allele to appear more frequently in patients than in the healthy control population, thus suggesting an association of the allele with familial MF. It is worth noting, however, that although some familial clusters of MF have been reported, the vast majority of CTCL cases occur without a familial link.

Additionally, deep genetic sequencing (whole exome) of mycosis fungoides samples, in which the patients’ DNA was analyzed to identify genetic variants, revealed recurrent mutations that seem to be acquired during a lifetime, rather than inherited – also known as somatic mutations. Somatic mutations are believed to be a leading factor in the unchecked cell division in most cancers. The examples of alterations included genes involved in: T-cell activation and programmed cell death (apoptosis), NF-κB signaling that plays a role in cell proliferation and survival, remodeling of chromatin (the DNA and proteins from which chromosomes are derived), and DNA damage response.

Without any strong scientific evidence of hereditary susceptibility, CTCL will likely continue to be thought of as an acquired disorder. Those with skin rash who are concerned about risk and family history are encouraged to see a dermatologist, who can refer to an oncologist or other specialist if the CTCL diagnosis is confirmed.

References:

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2005 Mar; 52: 393–402.

Nature Genetics, 2015 Sep; 47(9): 1011-9.