Approval of Imbruvica Frontline for 17p deleted CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) and Important Trials
The p53 gene lives on the 17p arm so when it's deleted, there's missing p53. Without functional p53, cancer cells don't die very easily of apoptosis, the programmed death pathway built into all cells that allows them to suicide when they get too old to function, or in the case of our leukemic cells, become increasingly aberrant and dysfunctional. Without the tumor suppressing p53 gene, the "guardian of the genome", protecting and repairing our DNA and if that fails, then starting to fire up the self destruction pathway, our cancer continues to grow and mutate and get weirder and more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Most chemotherapy works with the help of p53, first damaging the DNA itself, but then needing the p53 to take it from there by recognizing the overwhelming damage and then persuading the injured cell to die. No p53, and we get just the chemo induced DNA damage, but the cell can live on and even reproduce faulty clones of itself. That is one reason 17p deletion carries such a bad prognosis.
Until we had ibrutinib (and now also idelalisib or Zydelig), our choices for treating 17p deleted CLL were poor- There were and are a few other therapies that do their killing independent of p53 induced cell suicide. Campath works if you don't have any big nodes, but comes with high infection risks. HDMP (high dose methylprednisolone) + R (rituximab) and flavoperidol and even lenalidomide helped some.
No great choices, until now.
I quote from the press release about the trial that lead to the ibrutinib approval:
At baseline, the median age of these patients was 67 years, 58% of whom had at least one tumor > 5 cm, and 32% of whom had the del 17p mutation. Patients receiving IMBRUVICA demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and overall response rate (ORR) as compared to patients treated with ofatumumab. The median PFS and OS has not been reached on the IMBRUVICA arm. There was a 78% statistically significant reduction in the risk of progression or death as assessed by an independent review committee (IRC) according to the modified IWCLL criteria (HR 0.22, 95% CI, 0.15 to 0.32). In addition, the analysis of overall survival demonstrated a 57% statistically significant reduction in the risk of death for patients in the IMBRUVICA arm (HR 0.43; 95 CI, 0.24 to 0.79). This was observed despite a total of 57 patients who were initially randomized to ofatumumab crossing over to receive IMBRUVICA prior to the analysis. For previously treated del 17p CLL patients, there was a 75% reduction in the risk of progression or death as assessed by an IRC (HR 0.25, 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.45).
Ibrutinib seems to do well on all the folks like me with a missing 17p chromosome on our FISH test, and probably even better for the treatment naive 17p deleted patient. Here is another abstract from the NIH on the subject.
This is good news, right now for just those 17p deletion frontline, but I hope it is only the beginning.
I believe these drugs and others in the pipeline need to be available to all appropriate treatment naive patients, not just those with 17p deletion.
It shouldn't be that most of us have to fail chemo first before being offered less toxic options. The ibrutinib data from the earliest trials suggest those who get ibrutinib upfront before any chemo do the best.
That is why there are some really important clinical trials out there to consider for those who will soon be needing their first treatment for their CLL. Here are a few of my favorites.
With ibrutinib or Imbruvica:
Rituximab and Bendamustine Hydrochloride, Rituximab and Ibrutinib, or Ibrutinib Alone in Treating Older Patients With Previously Untreated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Ibrutinib and Rituximab Compared With Fludarabine Phosphate, Cyclophosphamide, and Rituximab in Treating Patients With Untreated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma
Efficacy and Safety of Idelalisib in Combination With Bendamustine and Rituximab in Subjects With Previously Untreated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
With ABT-199 or GDC-0199:
A Study of GDC-0199 (ABT-199) in Combination With Obinutuzumab in Patients With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
This is by no means a complete list. There are at least 222 trials when you search untreated CLL on Clinicaltrials.gov.
These trials are critical so we can finally prove, as I suspect, that moving these drugs upfront and avoiding chemo all together, is our best course for a long and healthy life.
There are a few other exciting early trials using ROR1 for relapsed disease that Dr. Kipps will be discussing in my next post, an interview from ASCO. ROR1 may prove to be the holy grail of a marker that is truly unique to the CLL cells, making it the perfect target for an anti-cancer drug.
And clinical trials are for many of us, especially in frontline settings, the only path to getting these new agents.
Labels: ABT-199, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Clinical Trial NCT01217749, Clinical trials, CLL, Dr. Kipps, FDA approval, GDC-0199, ibrutinib, Imbruvica, Lenalidomide, obinutuzumab, ofatumumab, PCI-32765, ROR1, Zydelig