Venclexta® and Low-doses of Cytarabine Effective in Elderly with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

The treatment combination consisting of Venclexta® (venetoclax) plus low-doses of the chemotherapy agent cytarabine appears to be an effective and tolerable treatment regimen for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are not eligible for intensive therapy. These results were presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

AML is an aggressive type of leukemia, resulting from the abnormal and stunted development of a certain type of immune cell. AML comprises approximately 25% of all types of leukemia cases worldwide. An average of 25% of patients diagnosed with AML will survive 5 years following diagnosis when treated with standard therapies, necessitating the development of novel therapeutic approaches

Importantly, the majority of patients diagnosed with AML are elderly, and are not able to tolerate the more aggressive therapies often used in younger patients.

The BCL-2 (B-cell lymphoma 2) protein is a type of protein that is found in certain types of cancers that affect blood cells. This protein inhibits the death of cancer cells, enabling the cancer cells to grow and spread.

Venclexta is an agent that inhibits the BCL-2 protein from protecting the survival of cancer cells, thereby resulting in reduced growth and/or the death of cancer cells.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of Venclexta and low-doses of the chemotherapy agent cytarabine among elderly patients with AML. The trial included 20 patients with a median age of 74 years, who were considered not eligible for receiving intensive chemotherapy.

  • Anti-cancer responses were achieved in approximately 75% of patients.
  • Although the median survival time had not been reached at the time of the presentation of this data, the estimated overall survival of patients at one year following therapy was nearly 75%.
  • Among patients who achieved anti-cancer responses to therapy, nearly 87% were estimated to still be alive at one year following therapy.
  • The most common serious side effects besides low levels of blood cells were the following: fever accompanied by low immune cells; high blood pressure and low levels of phosphate in the blood.

The researchers conducting this trial concluded that Venclexta pus low-dose cytarabine is an effective and well-tolerated treatment regimen for elderly patients with AML.

Reference: Wei A, Strickland S, Roboz G, et al. Safety and efficacy of venetoclax plus low-dose cytarabine in treatment-naive patients aged ≥65 years with acute myeloid leukemia.  Proceedings from the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). Abstract #102.

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