VR-EPOCH led to a high rate of durable complete response for patients with Richterȁ9;s syndrome
Toxicities included cytopenias and infection, but tumor lysis syndrome was not observed with accelerated daily venetoclax ramp-up
Richter's Syndrome (RS) of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is typically chemoresistant, with a poor prognosis. We hypothesized that the oral Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax could sensitize RS to chemoimmunotherapy and improve outcomes. We conducted a single-arm, investigator-sponsored, phase 2 trial of venetoclax plus dose-adjusted rituximab, etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin (VR-EPOCH) to determine the rate of complete response (CR). Patients received R-EPOCH for 1 cycle, then after count recovery, accelerated daily venetoclax ramp-up to 400 mg, then VR-EPOCH for up to 5 more 21-day cycles. Responders received venetoclax maintenance or cellular therapy off-study. Twenty-six patients were treated, and 13 of 26 (50%) achieved CR, with 11 achieving undetectable bone marrow minimal residual disease for CLL. Three additional patients achieved partial response (overall response rate 62%). Median progression-free survival was 10.1 months, and median overall survival was 19.6 months. Hematologic toxicity included grade ≥3 neutropenia (65%) and thrombocytopenia (50%), with febrile neutropenia in 38%. No patients experienced tumor lysis syndrome with daily venetoclax ramp-up. VR-EPOCH is active in RS, with deeper, more durable responses than historical regimens. Toxicities from intensive chemoimmunotherapy and venetoclax were observed. Our data suggest that studies comparing venetoclax with chemoimmunotherapy to chemoimmunotherapy alone are warranted. (Funded by Genentech/AbbVie; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03054896).