Background: Nilotinib, a 2nd-generation BCR-ABL inhibitor, is 20–30 times more potent than imatinib in vitro. A phase II, open-label study of safety/efficacy of nilotinib in pts with imatinib-resistant/intolerant Ph+ CML-CP or -AP was reported. Planned starting dose was 400mg BID, with escalation to 600mg BID if response was inadequate. The objective of the post-hoc analysis was to evaluate safety/efficacy of nilotinib 600mg BID in CML-CP pts who had dose escalation.

Methods: Starting dose was 400mg BID. If response was inadequate (failure to achieve complete hematologic response [CHR] by 3 mos, minimal cytogenetic response [CyR] by 6 mos, or major cytogenetic response [MCyR] by 12 mos; loss of HR, CyR, or progression), nilotinib to 600mg BID dosing was permitted. Imatinib resistance was defined as treatment with imatinib ≥600 mg/d with disease progression (≥50% increase in WBC, blasts, basophils, or platelets) or no HR in peripheral blood and/or bone marrow after 4 wks.

Results: Of 320 enrolled pts in CP, 269 remained on nilotinib 400mg BID; 51 pts were dose-escalated to 600mg BID for inadequate responses (mean age 57.7 yrs; 68.6% male). All pts met the study criteria for imatinib resistance. Prior imatinib dose was ≥600mg QD in 98% pts and ≥800 mg QD in 53%. 43/51 (84%) pts had no baseline CHR; 38% had no prior history of complete cytogenetic response (CCyR). 35% had prior MCyR. Median time to dose escalation was 169 (114–211) d. 14 (27.5%) pts remain on therapy; median time to discontinuation from study was 307 (235–414) d. 5 pts with disease progression and no deaths were observed among pts who received 600mg BID. CHR was achieved in 58% of evaluable pts without CHR at baseline (n=43). MCyR occurred in 29% of evaluable pts (15/51) on 600mg BID; 10% (5/51) CCyR. Disease progression was low, occurring in 10% (5/51) of pts on 600mg BID. Median time to progression for CP pts on 600mg BID was 12 mos, substantially less than for pts who stayed on 400mg BID (median not observed yet, at least 20 mo). Nonhematologic AEs in 600mg BID pts were similar to those reported for the entire CP cohort from the phase II study. Grade 3/4 hematologic lab abnormalities were: anemia 13.8%, neutropenia 7.9%, thrombocytopenia 13.7%. Hyperglycemia and elevated bilirubin occurred in 6% and 10% of pts, respectively, on 600mg BID.

Conclusions: Some HR and CyR after dose escalation to 600mg BID were observed. Safety/tolerability for 600mg BID were similar to the entire CP cohort. Based on these preliminary data, nilotinib dose escalation to 600mg BID in imatinib-resistant Ph+ CML-CP pts may be effective in pts with inadequate responses to 400mg BID. As might be expected in a more resistant population, response duration was shorter than reported for the phase II CP cohort. Additional follow-up is necessary. Use of 600mg BID is not currently recommended for imatinib-resistant CML-CP pts outside clinical studies.

Author notes

Disclosure:Employment: Woodman, Wang--Novartis. Consultancy: Hochhaus - Novartis. Research Funding: Hochhaus - Novartis, BMS, Innovive, Wyeth, Merck; Giles, le Coutre, Gattermann, Cortes, Kantarjian - Novartis; Bhalla - Merck. Honoraria Information: Hochhaus - Novartis, BMS; le Coutre, Gattermann, Bhalla - Novartis. Paid Export Testimony Information: le Coutre - Novartis. Off Label Use: At submission, nilotinib is not FDA approved for use in the United States.