Key Points

  • Venetoclax plus decitabine or azacitidine showed tolerable safety and favorable overall response rate (CR + CRi rate: 67%) in elderly patients with AML.

  • This novel combination regimen produced favorable responses in high-risk groups, such as age 75 or older, poor cytogenetics, and secondary AML.


Older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) respond poorly to standard induction therapy. B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) overexpression is implicated in survival of AML cells and treatment resistance. We report safety and efficacy of venetoclax with decitabine or azacitidine from a large, multicenter, phase 1b dose-escalation and expansion study. Patients (N = 145) were at least 65 years old with treatment-naive AML and were ineligible for intensive chemotherapy. During dose escalation, oral venetoclax was administered at 400, 800, or 1200 mg daily in combination with either decitabine (20 mg/m2, days 1-5, intravenously [IV]) or azacitidine (75 mg/m2, days 1-7, IV or subcutaneously). In the expansion, 400 or 800 mg venetoclax with either hypomethylating agent (HMA) was given. Median age was 74 years, with poor-risk cytogenetics in 49% of patients. Common adverse events (>30%) included nausea, diarrhea, constipation, febrile neutropenia, fatigue, hypokalemia, decreased appetite, and decreased white blood cell count. No tumor lysis syndrome was observed. With a median time on study of 8.9 months, 67% of patients (all doses) achieved complete remission (CR) + CR with incomplete count recovery (CRi), with a CR + CRi rate of 73% in the venetoclax 400 mg + HMA cohort. Patients with poor-risk cytogenetics and those at least 75 years old had CR + CRi rates of 60% and 65%, respectively. The median duration of CR + CRi (all patients) was 11.3 months, and median overall survival (mOS) was 17.5 months; mOS has not been reached for the 400-mg venetoclax cohort. The novel combination of venetoclax with decitabine or azacitidine was effective and well tolerated in elderly patients with AML (This trial was registered at as #NCT02203773).

You do not currently have access to this content.