With the advent of potent BCR::ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph-positive) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is now a relatively favorable-risk acute leukemia. In this review, we discuss the current evidence for frontline therapies of Ph-positive ALL, the major principles that guide therapy, and the progress with chemotherapy-free regimens.
Incorporating TKIs into the chemotherapy regimens of patients with newly diagnosed Ph-positive ALL has led to improved remission rates, higher probability of reaching allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT), and longer survival compared with chemotherapy alone. Early achievement of a complete molecular remission (CMR) is an important end point in Ph-positive ALL and identifies patients who have excellent long-term survival and may not need allogeneic SCT. Second-generation TKIs combined with intensive or low-intensity chemotherapy resulted in higher CMR rates compared with imatinib-based regimens. This translated into better outcomes, with less reliance on allogeneic SCT. To further improve the outcomes, the potent third-generation TKI ponatinib was added to chemotherapy. The combination of hyper-CVAD and ponatinib resulted in an overall CMR rate of 84% and a 5-year survival rate of 73% and 86% among patients who did and did not undergo allogeneic SCT, respectively, suggesting that allogeneic SCT may not be needed with this regimen. The recent chemotherapy-free combination of dasatinib and blinatumomab was safe and effective in patients with newly diagnosed Ph-positive ALL and resulted in an estimated 3-year OS rate of 80%; 50% of patients underwent allogeneic SCT. The chemotherapy-free regimen of ponatinib and blinatumomab resulted in a CMR rate of 86% and a 2-year survival rate of 93%, with no relapses or leukemia-related deaths, and with only 1 patient proceeding to allogeneic SCT.
Conclusions and Relevance
The promising results obtained with the chemotherapy-free regimens of blinatumomab plus TKIs question the role of allogeneic SCT in first remission. Patients with Ph-positive ALL who achieve early and deep molecular responses have excellent long-term outcomes and may not benefit from allogeneic SCT.
Jabbour E, Haddad FG, Short NJ, Kantarjian H. Treatment of Adults With Philadelphia Chromosome–Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia—From Intensive Chemotherapy Combinations to Chemotherapy-Free Regimens: A Review. JAMA Oncol. 2022;8(9):1340–1348. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.2398
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