Background: Combination studies with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors plus hypomethylating agents (HMA) have suggested beneficial clinical activity in higher risk MDS and AML, though exceptions have also been reported. Pracinostat is a potent oral HDAC inhibitor selective for class I, II and IV isoforms. A pilot phase Ib study of pracinostat in combination with azacitidine (AZA) in higher risk MDS demonstrated a complete response (CR)/CR with incomplete blood count recovery (CRi) rate of 89% (Proc ASH:3821, 2012). Preliminary data on 33 patients from a multi-center, open-label, single-arm Phase II study of Pracinostat in combination with AZA in elderly AML also reported a high CR/CRi rate (ASH 2014). Herein we report the latest survival and response results for this study.

Methods: Eligibility includes previously untreated AML (≥20% bone marrow blasts), age ≥65 years, unsuitable for intensive therapy due to co-morbidities and/or AML related features, and intermediate or high-risk cytogenetics. Study therapy includes pracinostat, 60 mg p.o. 3 alternate days/week for 3 weeks plus AZA, 75 mg/m2) days 1-7 or days 1-5 and 8-9 either s.c. or i.v. with cycles repeated every 28 days until progressive disease, lack of response or intolerance. The primary endpoint is CR+CRi+ morphologic leukemia free state (MLFS) per IWG criteria. Response assessments occur at the end of cycle 1 or 2 then every other cycle or when clinically indicated. A Simon 2-stage statistical design is utilized with the following assumptions: null=0.10, alternate=0.25, a=0.10, power=0.90. Stage 1 n=27 and total stage 2 n=40. Secondary endpoints include overall response rate (ORR; CR+CRi+MLFS+partial response [PR]+PRi), duration of response and overall survival.

Results: Between Dec 2013 and Dec 2014, 50 patients from 15 study sites were enrolled. At this time, 50 are evaluable for efficacy. Baseline disease characteristics for all patients include: median age 75 (range 66-84); 32 de novo AML, 13 evolved from AHD, 5 were treatment-related; 28 intermediate-risk and 20 high-risk cytogenetics and 2 unknown; baseline bone marrow blast counts ranged from 20% to 89% with a median of 40%. Thirty-one patients (62%) continue to be followed for survival (range: 8.5 to 18.5 months). Median overall survival has not been reached in the overall study population and neither in patients with high-risk cytogenics or those with AML secondary to MDS or prior anti-cancer therapy. The 1-year overall survival estimate is 60%. The primary endpoint of CR +CRi +MLFS has been observed in 27/50 evaluable patients (54%) to date, including 21/50 (42%) CR. The 60-day all-cause mortality rate is 10% (5/50). Treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs) Grade ≥3 seen in >5% of patients: febrile neutropenia 30%; thrombocytopenia 22%; neutropenia 10%; cellulitis 10%; anemia 8%; fatigue 8%; sepsis 6%, and pancytopenia 6%. TEAE's leading to study therapy discontinuation: peripheral motor neuropathy (1), parainfluenza (1), atrial fibrillation/prolonged QTc (1), subdural hematoma after a fall (1), and sepsis (3).

Conclusions: Pracinostat plus AZA produces a high rate of durable responses in this AML population. Median overall survival has not been reached; 1-year overall survival is estimated at 60%. Final response data and overall survival estimates will be presented at the meeting.


Off Label Use: Azacitidine is not approved for use in acute myelogenous leukemia.. Khaled:Sequenom: Research Funding. Arellano:Cephalon Oncology: Research Funding. Butler:MEI Pharma, Inc.: Employment. Ashby:MEI Pharma, Inc.: Employment. Medeiros:Celgene: Honoraria, Research Funding; Agios Pharmaceuticals: Honoraria.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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