Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis and progression to leukemia. Clinical and experimental evidence suggests an immune-mediated pathophysiology in some patients, in whom immunosuppressive therapy (IST) with horse antithymocyte globulin (h-ATG) and cyclosporine (CsA) can be effective. Because of the toxicities associated with h-ATG/CsA, we investigated an alternative regimen with alemtuzumab in MDS.
Patients and Methods
We conducted a nonrandomized, off-label, pilot, phase I/II study of alemtuzumab monotherapy in patients with MDS who were judged likely to respond to IST based on the following criteria: HLA-DR15–negative patients whose age plus the number of months of RBC transfusion dependence (RCTD) was less than 58; and HLA-DR15–positive patients whose age plus RCTD was less than 72. In total, 121 patients with MDS were screened, of whom 32 met eligibility criteria to receive alemtuzumab 10 mg/d intravenously for 10 days. Primary end points were hematologic responses at 3, 6, and 12 months after alemtuzumab.
Seventeen (77%) of 22 evaluable intermediate-1 patients and four (57%) of seven evaluable intermediate-2 patients responded to treatment with a median time to response of 3 months. Four of seven evaluable responders with cytogenetic abnormalities before treatment had normal cytogenetics by 1 year after treatment. Five (56%) of nine responding patients evaluable at 12 months had normal blood counts, and seven (78%) of nine patients were transfusion independent.
Alemtuzumab is safe and active in MDS and may be an attractive alternative to ATG in selected patients likely to respond to IST.