Purine nucleoside combination therapy, with and without immunotherapy has become the standard treatment approach to CLL. Past approaches, other than stem cell transplantation, have not been successful in curing the disease. Inherent resistance of CLL precursors, impaired immune surveillance (T-cells, NK cells) and microenvironmental abnormalities may all play a role in the ability to effectively eradicate leukemia. PCR has been successfully employed for previously treated (Lamanna 2006) and previously untreated (Kay 2007) patients with CLL. In addition, CA has been added to FCR (Wierda 2006) to treat relapsed/refractory CLL disease. We designed a study to evaluate PCR followed by CA for relapsed/refractory CLL. This ECOG study includes, in addition to response criteria, molecular correlates (FISH anomalies and CpG karyotype), risk parameters analysis, including CD38, ZAP-70 and IgVH mutational status. We assessed the baseline and sequential changes in the angiogenic status of patients by measuring plasma VEGF, bFGF, thrombospondin and their immune status via T-cell repertoire. From September 2004 to September 2006, 32 patients with relapsed/refractory CLL were enrolled in the protocol. The protocol combined 2 regimens (PCR and CA). Step 1, PCR, was planned for 6 monthly cycles. Steps 2 and 3 consisted of short term CA (4 weeks) or standard CA (18 weeks) depending upon Step 1 response. There were 3 ineligible, 1 not evaluated, and 28 evaluable patients. FISH anomalies revealed that 8 patients had a homozygous or heterozygous 13q-defect, 9 had complex FISH defects (more than one FISH anomaly), 5 patients had FISH anomalies that included del(17p13.1), 4 patients had FISH anomalies that included 6q-and 3 had FISH anomalies that included 11q-. CD38 was positive in 10 patients, 11 were ZAP-70 positive and 12 of 19 patients tested had unmutated type clones. The planned 6 cycles of Step 1 (PCR) was administered to 14/32 patients (44%), the others receiving 0–5 cycles. All responses were considered partial responses (11/29; 37.9%), with 2 patients (6.9%) demonstrating progressive disease. However, patients receiving the planned 6 cycles of PCR, achieved a partial response of 71% (10/14) with 2 cases of tumor lysis syndrome. Toxicity (Step 1-PCR) was predominately myelosuppressive (Grade 1–4). A case of chronic idiopathic polyneuropathy and a case of “paraneoplastic pemphigus” were reported. There were 4 deaths. CMV reactivation was diagnosed in 2 patients, neither of which was fatal. During Step 2 (CA), short-term administration in one patient led to grade 3 skin toxicity, which limited administration. During long-term administration of CA (PR, PD, SD) (n=7), infectious complications occurred in 6 patients all of whom developed grade 4 lymphopenia. The median survival for the entire group was 15 months. In conclusion, a significant number of heavily pre-treated and poor prognosis patients with CLL will respond to PCR. Further analysis will determine whether a significant number of patients will achieve a higher level of response and longer survival after CA administration. Studies of association of outcome with the risk parameters are ongoing and will be presented with the clinical response data.

Disclosure: Hospira, Supergen

Author notes

Disclosure:Research Funding: Dr. Kay receives funding from Hospira.