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1.  Current Concepts in Pediatric Philadelphia Chromosome-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
The t(9;22)(q34;q11) or Philadelphia chromosome creates a BCR–ABL1 fusion gene encoding for a chimeric BCR–ABL1 protein. It is present in 3–4% of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL), and about 25% of adult ALL cases. Prior to the advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), Ph+ ALL was associated with a very poor prognosis despite the use of intensive chemotherapy and frequently hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) in first remission. The development of TKIs revolutionized the therapy of Ph+ ALL. Addition of the first generation ABL1 class TKI imatinib to intensive chemotherapy dramatically increased the survival for children with Ph+ ALL and established that many patients can be cured without HSCT. In parallel, the mechanistic understanding of Ph+ ALL expanded exponentially through careful mapping of pathways downstream of BCR–ABL1, the discovery of mutations in master regulators of B-cell development such as IKZF1 (Ikaros), PAX5, and early B-cell factor (EBF), the recognition of the complex clonal architecture of Ph+ ALL, and the delineation of genomic, epigenetic, and signaling abnormalities contributing to relapse and resistance. Still, many important basic and clinical questions remain unanswered. Current clinical trials are testing second generation TKIs in patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ ALL. Neither the optimal duration of therapy nor the optimal chemotherapy backbone are currently defined. The role of HSCT in first remission and post-transplant TKI therapy also require further study. In addition, it will be crucial to continue to dig deeper into understanding Ph+ ALL at a mechanistic level, and translate findings into complementary targeted approaches. Expanding targeted therapies hold great promise to decrease toxicity and improve survival in this high-risk disease, which provides a paradigm for how targeted therapies can be incorporated into treatment of other high-risk leukemias.
PMCID: PMC3971203  PMID: 24724051
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; BCR–ABL1; tyrosine kinase inhibition; chemotherapy; hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation
2.  Long-term follow-up of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for patients with Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Impact of tyrosine kinase inhibitors on treatment outcomes 
The introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) has revolutionized therapy for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who have the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome.
Patients and methods
A retrospective analysis was conducted on 102 adults and 11 children who received a first matched related (n =60), matched unrelated (n =40), mismatched cord blood (n=12), or haplo-identical (n=1) allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) for Ph+ ALL in first complete remission (n=71), second complete remission (n=11) or with active disease (n=31) between 1990 and 2009. Sixtyseven patients received TKI with upfront ALL therapy, and 32 patients received TKI maintenance following HSCT.
With median follow-up of 5 years among survivors (range, 1.1–20.4 years), overall survival (OS) was significantly better for patients transplanted in first remission compared with HSCT in advanced disease: 43% vs. 16%, p=0.002. Disease stage and age at time of HSCT, the development of acute GVHD, and decade of HSCT were found to significantly impact OS, progression-free survival (PFS) and non-relapse mortality (NRM) in multivariate analyses.
Allogeneic HSCT provides durable remission for patients with Ph+ ALL in first remission. Neither TKI use pre- nor post HSCT were found to significantly impact transplant outcomes in univariate and multivariate analyses.
PMCID: PMC4102408  PMID: 21867666
3.  Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemia stem cells in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy 
World Journal of Stem Cells  2012;4(6):44-52.
Leukemia stem cells (LSCs), which constitute a minority of the tumor bulk, are functionally defined on the basis of their ability to transfer leukemia into an immunodeficient recipient animal. The presence of LSCs has been demonstrated in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), of which ALL with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+). The use of imatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), as part of front-line treatment and in combination with cytotoxic agents, has greatly improved the proportions of complete response and molecular remission and the overall outcome in adults with newly diagnosed Ph+ ALL. New challenges have emerged with respect to induction of resistance to imatinib via Abelson tyrosine kinase mutations. An important recent addition to the arsenal against Ph+ leukemias in general was the development of novel TKIs, such as nilotinib and dasatinib. However, in vitro experiments have suggested that TKIs have an antiproliferative but not an antiapoptotic or cytotoxic effect on the most primitive ALL stem cells. None of the TKIs in clinical use target the LSC. Second generation TKI dasatinib has been shown to have a more profound effect on the stem cell compartment but the drug was still unable to kill the most primitive LSCs. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) remains the only curative treatment available for these patients. Several mechanisms were proposed to explain the resistance of LSCs to TKIs in addition to mutations. Hence, TKIs may be used as a bridge to SCT rather than monotherapy or combination with standard chemotherapy. Better understanding the biology of Ph+ ALL will open new avenues for effective management. In this review, we highlight recent findings relating to the question of LSCs in Ph+ ALL.
PMCID: PMC3443711  PMID: 22993661
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Philadelphia chromosome; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Leukemia stem cells; Prognosis
4.  The treatment of pediatric chronic myelogenous leukemia in the imatinib era 
Korean Journal of Pediatrics  2011;54(3):111-116.
Childhood chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a rare hematologic disease, with limited literature on the methods of treatment. Previously, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) was considered the only curative treatment for this disease. Treatment with imatinib, a selective inhibitor of the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase (TKI), has resulted in prolonged molecular response with limited drug toxicity. Imatinib is now implemented in the primary treatment regimen for children, but the paucity of evidence on its ability to result in permanent cure and the potential complications that may arise from long-term treatment with TKIs have prevented imatinib from superseding HSCT as the primary means of curative treatment in children. The results of allogeneic HSCT in children with CML are similar to those observed in adults; HSCT-related complications such as transplant-related mortality and graft-versus-host disease remain significant challenges. An overall consensus has been formed with regards to the need for HSCT in patients with imatinib resistance or those with advanced-phase disease. However, issues such as when to undertake HSCT in chronic-phase CML patients or how best to treat patients who have relapsed after HSCT are still controversial. The imatinib era calls for a reevaluation of the role of HSCT in the treatment of CML. Specific guidelines for the treatment of pediatric CML have not yet been formulated, underscoring the importance of prospective studies on issues such as duration of imatinib treatment, optimal timing of HSCT and the type of conditioning utilized, possible treatment pre- and post-HSCT, and the role of second-generation TKIs.
PMCID: PMC3120996  PMID: 21738540
Chronic myelogenous leukemia; Children; Treatment; Imatinib; Transplantation; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
5.  Analysis of the Role of Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation in Infants With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in First Remission and MLL Gene Rearrangements: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;29(2):214-222.
Although the majority of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are cured with current therapy, the event-free survival (EFS) of infants with ALL, particularly those with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangements, is only 30% to 40%. Relapse has been the major source of treatment failure for these patients. The parallel Children's Cancer Group (CCG) 1953 and Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) 9407 studies were designed to test the hypothesis that more intensive therapy, including dose intensification of chemotherapy, and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) would improve the outcome for this group of patients.
Patients and Methods
One hundred eighty-nine infants (CCG 1953, n = 115; POG 9407, n = 74) were enrolled between October 1996 and August 2000. For infants with the MLL gene rearrangement and an appropriate donor, HSCT was the preferred treatment on CCG 1953 and investigator option on POG 9407 after completion of the second phase of therapy. Fifty-three infants underwent HSCT.
The 5-year EFS rate was 48.8% (95% CI, 33.9% to 63.7%) in patients who received HSCT and 48.7% (95% CI, 33.8% to 63.6%) in patients treated with chemotherapy alone (P = .60). Transplantation outcomes were not affected by the preparatory regimen or donor source.
Our data suggest that routine use of HSCT for infants with MLL-rearranged ALL is not indicated. However, limited by small numbers, this study should not be considered the definitive answer to this question.
PMCID: PMC3058277  PMID: 21135279
6.  Susceptibility Of Ph-Positive All To Tki Therapy Associated With Bcr-Abl Rearrangement Patterns: A Retrospective Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e110431.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have demonstrated success in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in patients that express BCR-ABL rearrangements (Philadelphia chromosome [Ph]). The current study aimed to assess the efficacy of TKIs and prognostic factors in the treatment of adults with Ph+-ALL.
In this multicenter retrospective study, the relationship between Ph+-ALL and treatment outcomes among Chinese patients receiving TKI-containing induction/consolidation chemotherapy was examined. A total of 86 Ph+-ALL patients were included and followed for 3.85 (0.43–9.30) years. Overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were analyzed.
A total of 86 Ph+-ALL patients (40 females and 46 males; median age: 34.0 years) were enrolled, including those with BCR/ABL transcripts 190 (n = 52), 210 (n = 25), and 230 (n = 2); BCR/ABL isoform determination was not available for 7 patients. Mortality was influenced by variable BCR/ABL transcripts and TKI administration, and BCR/ABL transcripts, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), and TKI administration were associated with the occurrence of events. The OS rate in the TKI administration group during steady state was significantly higher compared with those patients who did not receive TKI administration (P = 0.008), the EFS rate in the TKI administration group during steady state was significantly higher compared with those patients who did not receive TKIs (P = 0.012), and also higher than those with TKI salvage administration (P = 0.004). BCR/ABL transcripts 210 showed preferable OS and EFS compared with BCR/ABL transcripts 190 and 230 (P<0.05 for each).
The susceptibility of Ph+-ALL to TKI associated with the patterns of BCR-ABL rearrangement is demonstrated for the first time, thus adding another risk-stratifying molecular prognostic tool for the management of patients with Ph+-ALL.
PMCID: PMC4240579  PMID: 25415187
7.  Prognostic factors influencing clinical outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation following imatinib-based therapy in BCR–ABL-positive ALL 
Blood Cancer Journal  2012;2(5):e72-.
We investigated prognostic factors for the clinical outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) in patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ALL) following imatinib-based therapy. Among 100 adult patients who were prospectively enrolled in the JALSG Ph+ALL202 study, 97 patients obtained complete remission (CR) by imatinib-combined chemotherapy, among whom 60 underwent allo-HSCT in their first CR. The probabilities of overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) at 3 years after HSCT were 64% (95% CI, 49–76) and 58% (95% CI, 43–70), respectively. Prognostic factor analysis revealed that the major BCR–ABL transcript was the only unfavorable predictor for OS and DFS after HSCT by both univariate (HR, 3.67 (95% CI 1.49–9.08); P=0.005 and HR, 6.25 (95% CI, 1.88–20.8); P=0.003, respectively) and multivariate analyses (HR, 3.20 (95% CI, 1.21–8.50); P=0.019 and HR, 6.92 (95% CI, 2.09–22.9); P=0.002, respectively). Minimal residual disease status at the time of HSCT had a significant influence on relapse rate (P=0.015). Further study of the BCR–ABL subtype for the clinical impact on outcome of allo-HSCT in Ph+ALL is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3366071  PMID: 22829974
philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia; imatinib; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; prognostic factor
8.  Monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) is useful to predict prognosis of adult patients with Ph-negative ALL: results of a prospective study (ALL MRD2002 Study) 
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for patients with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in first complete remission (CR1) is much more intensive than multi-agent combined chemotherapy, although allogeneic HSCT is associated with increased morbidity and mortality when compared with such chemotherapy. Minimal residual disease (MRD) status has been proven to be a strong prognostic factor for adult patients with Ph-negative ALL.
We investigated whether MRD status in adult patients with ALL is useful to decide clinical indications for allogeneic HSCT. We prospectively monitored MRD after induction and consolidation therapy in adult patients with Ph-negative ALL.
Of 110 adult ALL patients enrolled between July 2002 and August 2008, 101 were eligible, including 59 Ph-negative patients. MRD status was assessed in 43 patients by the detection of major rearrangements in TCR and Ig and the presence of chimeric mRNA. Thirty-nine patients achieved CR1, and their probabilities of 3-year overall survival and disease-free survival (DFS) were 74% and 56%, respectively. Patients who were MRD-negative after induction therapy (n = 26) had a significantly better 3-year DFS compared with those who were MRD-positive (n = 13; 69% vs. 31%, p = 0.004). All of 3 patients who were MRD-positive following consolidation chemotherapy and did not undergo allogeneic HSCT, relapsed and died within 3 years after CR.
These results indicate that MRD monitoring is useful for determining the clinical indications for allogeneic HSCT in the treatment of ALL in CR1.
PMCID: PMC3574830  PMID: 23388549
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Minimal residual disease; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Adult
9.  Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation for CML Resistant to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors 
Clinical lymphoma, myeloma & leukemia  2011;11(Suppl 1):S96-S100.
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is well established as a potentially curative treatment for patients with CML. The success of imatinib and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) as initial therapy has changed the treatment paradigm in this disease. Allogeneic hematopoietic transplants are now reserved for patients failing to respond optimally to TKI treatment. Patients failing to have an optimal response to imatinib may respond to a second generation TKI, dasatinib or nilotinib, and many achieve major or complete molecular and cytogenetic responses. The indication for allogeneic HSCT vs. continued second line therapy is not well defined and is the subject of ongoing study. There has been continued progress in reducing the toxicity and risks of HSCT with development of reduced intensity regimens; transplants can be routinely performed in patients up to age 75 who are in fair general medical condition. Transplants from unrelated donors have improved, with survival similar that achieved with matched siblings. Results with haploidentical and cord blood transplants have markedly improved, and should be considered for patients lacking a matched donor. Allogeneic hematopoietic transplants have the best chance to be curative in patients with chronic phase that is under hematologic control with 80% disease free survival; patients progressing to accelerated phase or blast crisis have a much poorer prognosis. Thus, HSCT should be considered for patients with imatinib failure. Patients receiving second line TKI therapy need to be closely monitored, and referred for transplantation if a complete cytogenetic response and major molecular response is not achieved. HSCT should be performed if feasible in patients without a continued response to TKI treatment.
PMCID: PMC3226776  PMID: 22035758
10.  Philadelphia-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Current Treatment Options 
Current oncology reports  2012;14(5):387-394.
The Philadelphia chromosome (Ph), t(9;22), is seen in about 20 % to 30 % of adults diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It has been associated with poorer prognosis compared with Ph-negative ALL. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting the BCR-ABL oncogenic protein from this translocation have been incorporated into treatment regimens used to treat patients with Ph-positive ALL. Imatinib has been the most widely used TKI with several published trials showing it produced better outcomes when combined with chemotherapy. Dasatinib, a more potent inhibitor than imatinib, has also been evaluated with promising results. However, relapses still occur at a high rate, and allogeneic stem cell transplant is considered, so far, a better curative option in first remission. Additional strategies have also included incorporation of TKIs in the posttransplant setting and the use of newer third generation TKIs. This review provides an update on emerging therapies for adults with Ph-positive ALL.
PMCID: PMC4199301  PMID: 22669492
Philadelphia chromosome; ALL; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Allogeneic stem cell transplant
11.  Outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia in second complete remission: a single institution study 
Korean Journal of Pediatrics  2012;55(3):100-106.
The survival rate for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has improved significantly. However, overall prognosis for the 20 to 25% of patients who relapse is poor, and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) offers the best chance for cure. In this study, we identified significant prognostic variables by analyzing the outcomes of allogeneic HSCT in ALL patients in second complete remission (CR).
Fifty-three ALL patients (42 men, 79%) who received HSCT in second CR from August 1991 to February 2009 were included (26 sibling donor HSCTs, 49%; 42 bone marrow transplantations, 79%). Study endpoints included cumulative incidence of acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), relapse, 1-year transplant-related mortality (TRM), disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS).
Cumulative incidences of acute GVHD (grade 2 or above) and chronic GVHD were 45.3% and 28.5%, respectively. The estimated 5-year DFS and OS for the cohort was 45.2±6.8% and 48.3±7%, respectively. Only donor type, i.e., sibling versus unrelated, showed significant correlation with DFS in multivariate analysis (P=0.010). The rates of relapse and 1 year TRM were 28.9±6.4% and 26.4±6.1%, respectively, and unrelated donor HSCT (P=0.002) and HLA mismatch (P=0.022) were significantly correlated with increased TRM in univariate analysis.
In this single institution study spanning more than 17 years, sibling donor HSCT was the only factor predicting a favorable result in multivariate analysis, possibly due to increased TRM resulting from unrelated donor HSCT.
PMCID: PMC3315619  PMID: 22474465
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Child; Second complete remission; Transplantation
12.  BCR-ABL1-independent PI3Kinase activation causing imatinib-resistance 
The BCR-ABL1 translocation occurs in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and in 25% of cases with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) has fundamentally changed the treatment of CML. However, TKI are not equally effective for treating ALL. Furthermore, de novo or secondary TKI-resistance is a significant problem in CML. We screened a panel of BCR-ABL1 positive ALL and CML cell lines to find models for imatinib-resistance.
Five of 19 BCR-ABL1 positive cell lines were resistant to imatinib-induced apoptosis (KCL-22, MHH-TALL1, NALM-1, SD-1, SUP-B15). None of the resistant cell lines carried mutations in the kinase domain of BCR-ABL1 and all showed resistance to second generation TKI, nilotinib or dasatinib. STAT5, ERK1/2 and the ribosomal S6 protein (RPS6) are BCR-ABL1 downstream effectors, and all three proteins are dephosphorylated by imatinib in sensitive cell lines. TKI-resistant phosphorylation of RPS6, but responsiveness as regards JAK/STAT5 and ERK1/2 signalling were characteristic for resistant cell lines. PI3K pathway inhibitors effected dephosphorylation of RPS6 in imatinib-resistant cell lines suggesting that an oncogene other than BCR-ABL1 might be responsible for activation of the PI3K/AKT1/mTOR pathway, which would explain the TKI resistance of these cells. We show that the TKI-resistant cell line KCL-22 carries a PI3Kα E545G mutation, a site critical for the constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT1 pathway. Apoptosis in TKI-resistant cells could be induced by inhibition of AKT1, but not of mTOR.
We introduce five Philadelphia-chromosome positive cell lines as TKI-resistance models. None of these cell lines carries mutations in the kinase domain of BCR-ABL1 or other molecular aberrations previously indicted in the context of imatinib-resistance. These cell lines are unique as they dephosphorylate ERK1/2 and STAT5 after treatment with imatinib, while PI3K/AKT1/mTOR activity remains unaffected. Inhibition of AKT1 leads to apoptosis in the imatinib-resistant cell lines. In conclusion, Ph+ cell lines show a form of imatinib-resistance attributable to constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT1 pathway. Mutations in PIK3CA, as observed in cell line KCL-22, or PI3K activating oncogenes may undelie TKI-resistance in these cell lines.
PMCID: PMC3041785  PMID: 21299849
13.  Improved Early Event-Free Survival With Imatinib in Philadelphia Chromosome–Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Children's Oncology Group Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(31):5175-5181.
Imatinib mesylate is a targeted agent that may be used against Philadelphia chromosome–positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), one of the highest risk pediatric ALL groups.
Patients and Methods
We evaluated whether imatinib (340 mg/m2/d) with an intensive chemotherapy regimen improved outcome in children ages 1 to 21 years with Ph+ ALL (N = 92) and compared toxicities to Ph− ALL patients (N = 65) given the same chemotherapy without imatinib. Exposure to imatinib was increased progressively in five patient cohorts that received imatinib from 42 (cohort 1; n = 7) to 280 continuous days (cohort 5; n = 50) before maintenance therapy. Patients with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) –identical sibling donors underwent blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) with imatinib given for 6 months following BMT.
Continuous imatinib exposure improved outcome in cohort 5 patients with a 3-year event-free survival (EFS) of 80% ± 11% (95% CI, 64% to 90%), more than twice historical controls (35% ± 4%; P < .0001). Three-year EFS was similar for patients in cohort 5 treated with chemotherapy plus imatinib (88% ± 11%; 95% CI, 66% to 96%) or sibling donor BMT (57% ± 22%; 95% CI, 30.4% to 76.1%). There were no significant toxicities associated with adding imatinib to intensive chemotherapy. The higher imatinib dosing in cohort 5 appears to improve survival by having an impact on the outcome of children with a higher burden of minimal residual disease after induction.
Imatinib plus intensive chemotherapy improved 3-year EFS in children and adolescents with Ph+ ALL, with no appreciable increase in toxicity. BMT plus imatinib offered no advantage over BMT alone. Additional follow-up is required to determine the impact of this treatment on long-term EFS and determine whether chemotherapy plus imatinib can replace BMT.
PMCID: PMC2773475  PMID: 19805687
14.  Stem cell Transplantation for Eradication of Minimal PAncreatic Cancer persisting after surgical Excision (STEM PACE Trial, ISRCTN47877138): study protocol for a phase II study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:168.
Pancreatic cancer is the third most common cancer related cause of death. Even in the 15% of patients who are eligible for surgical resection the outlook is dismal with less than 10% of patients surviving after 5 years. Allogeneic hematopoietic (allo-HSCT) stem cell transplantation is an established treatment capable of to providing cure in a variety of hematopoietic malignancies. Best results are achieved when the underlying neoplasm has been turned into a stage of minimal disease by chemotherapy. Allo-HSCT in advanced solid tumors including pancreatic cancer have been of limited success, however studies of allo-HSCT in solid tumors in minimal disease situations have never been performed. The aim of this trial is to provide evidence for the clinical value of allo-HSCT in pancreatic cancer put into a minimal disease status by effective surgical resection and standard adjuvant chemotherapy.
The STEM PACE trial is a single center, phase II study to evaluate adjuvant allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in pancreatic cancer after surgical resection. The study will evaluate as primary endpoint 2 year progression free survival and will generate first time state-of-the-art scientific clinical evidence if allo-HSCT is feasible and if it can provide long term disease control in patients with effectively resected pancreatic cancer. Screened eligible patients after surgical resection and standard adjuvant chemotherapy with HLA matched related stem cell donor can participate. Patients without a matched donor will be used as a historical control. Study patients will undergo standard conditioning for allo-HSCT followed by transplantation of allogeneic unmanipulated peripheral blood stem cells. The follow up of the patients will continue for 2 years. Secondary endpoints will be evaluated on 7 postintervention visits.
The principal question addressed in this trial is whether allo-HSCT can change the unfavourable natural course of this disease. The underlying hypothesis is that allo-HSCT has the capacity to provide long-term disease control to an extent otherwise not possible in pancreatic cancer, thereby substantially improving survival of affected patients.
Trial registration
This trial has been registered: ISRCTN47877138
PMCID: PMC4008264  PMID: 24612467
Pancreatic cancer; Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Minimal residual disease
15.  High Risk Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: To Transplant or Not to Transplant? 
Because survival with both chemotherapy and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) approaches to high risk pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) generally improves through the years, regular comparisons of outcomes with either approach for a given indication are needed to decide when HSCT is indicated. Improvements in risk classification are allowing clinicians to identify patients at high risk for relapse early in their course of therapy. Whether patients defined as high risk by new methods will benefit from HSCT requires careful testing. Standardization and improvement of transplant approaches has led to equivalent survival outcomes with matched sibling and well-matched unrelated donors, however, survival using mismatched and haploidentical donors is generally worse. Trials comparing chemotherapy and HSCT must obtain sufficient data about therapy and stratify the analysis to assess the outcomes of best-chemotherapy with best-HSCT approaches.
PMCID: PMC3053056  PMID: 21195303
16.  Role of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors in the Management of Philadelphia Chromosome–Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
The Philadelphia chromosome is the most common cytogenetic abnormality found in adult patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The result of this abnormality is the BCR-ABL protein, a constitutively active kinase involved in cell signaling and survival. When managed with multiagent chemotherapy regimens alone, patients have traditionally had an inferior outcome in terms of remission duration and overall survival when compared with patients who are Philadelphia chromosome–negative. Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as imatinib and dasatinib, directly inhibit the BCR-ABL kinase, offering a targeted approach as a therapeutic option. As a result of several clinical trials with adequate follow-up, imatinib combined with chemotherapy represents the current standard of care for patients with newly diagnosed disease. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation has previously been the only modality to offer the potential for a cure, and it still should be considered for all patients deemed able to tolerate such an intervention. Second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as dasatinib, may further improve the outcome in these patients. The role of molecular monitoring and the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors after stem cell transplantation are areas of active investigation, and the results of ongoing trials will help to clarify the optimal management of these patients.
PMCID: PMC4201047  PMID: 21660654
Philadelphia chromosome; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; ALL; Ph+ ALL; Therapy; Treatment; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Imatinib; Dasatinib; Complications; Stem cell transplantation; Chemotherapy
17.  Long-term follow-up of imatinib in pediatric Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Children’s Oncology Group Study AALL0031 
Leukemia  2014;28(7):1467-1471.
We previously reported preliminary findings that post induction imatinib mesylate (340 mg/m2/day), in combination with intensive chemotherapy, resulted in outcomes similar to blood and marrow transplant (BMT) for pediatric patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph + ) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We now report 5-year outcomes of imatinib plus intensive chemotherapy in 91 children (1–21 years) with and without allogeneic BMT (N = 91). We explore the impacts of additional chromosomal abnormalities and minimal residual disease (MRD) by flow cytometry on outcomes. The 5-year disease-free survival was similar for Cohort 5 patients, treated with chemotherapy plus imatinib (70% ± 12%, n = 28), sibling donor BMT patients (65% ± 11%, n = 21) and unrelated donor BMT patients (59 ± 15%; P = 0.60, n = 13). Patients with additional cytogenetic abnormalities had worse outcomes (P = 0.05). End induction (pre-imatinib) MRD was not prognostic for Cohort 5 or allogeneic BMT patients, although limited by small numbers. The re-induction rate following relapse was similar to other higher-risk ALL groups. Longer-term follow-up confirms our initial observation of substantially good outcomes for children and adolescents with Ph + ALL treated with imatinib plus intensive chemotherapy with no advantage for allogeneic BMT.
PMCID: PMC4282929  PMID: 24441288
imatinib mesylate; Philadelphia chromosome; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; toxicity; event-free survival; blood and marrow transplantation
18.  Long-term Outcomes of Adults with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia after Autologous or Unrelated Donor Bone Marrow Transplantation 
Bone marrow transplantation  2007;41(7):635-642.
For adults with high-risk or recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who lack a suitable sibling donor, the decision between autologous (Auto) and unrelated donor (URD) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is difficult due to variable risks of relapse and treatment-related mortality (TRM). We analyzed data from two transplant registries to determine outcomes between Auto and URD HSCT for 260 adult ALL patients in first (CR1) or second (CR2) complete remission. All patients received a myeloablative conditioning regimen. The median follow-up was 77 (range 12-170) months. TRM at 1 year post-transplant was significantly higher with URD HSCT; however, there were minimal differences in TRM according to disease status. Relapse was higher with Auto HSCT and was increased in patients transplanted in CR2. Five year leukemia-free (37% vs. 39%) and overall (38% vs. 39%) survival rates were similar for Auto HSCT vs. URD HSCT in CR1. There were trends favoring URD HSCT in CR2. The long follow-up in this analysis demonstrated that either Auto or URD HSCT can result in long-term leukemia free and overall survival for adult ALL patients. The optimal time (CR1 vs. CR2) and technique to perform HSCT remains an important clinical question for adult ALL patients.
PMCID: PMC2587442  PMID: 18084335
acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); adult; autologous HSCT; unrelated donor HSCT
19.  Imatinib after induction for treatment of children and adolescents with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (EsPhALL): a randomised, open-label, intergroup study 
The Lancet Oncology  2012;13(9):936-945.
Trials of imatinib have provided evidence of activity in adults with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), but the drug's role when given with multidrug chemotherapy to children is unknown. This study assesses the safety and efficacy of oral imatinib in association with a Berlin–Frankfurt–Munster intensive chemotherapy regimen and allogeneic stem-cell transplantation for paediatric patients with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive ALL.
Patients aged 1–18 years recruited to national trials of front-line treatment for ALL were eligible if they had t(9;22)(q34;q11). Patients with abnormal renal or hepatic function, or an active systemic infection, were ineligible. Patients were enrolled by ten study groups between 2004 and 2009, and were classified as good risk or poor risk according to early response to induction treatment. Good-risk patients were randomly assigned by a web-based system with permuted blocks (size four) to receive post-induction imatinib with chemotherapy or chemotherapy only in a 1:1 ratio, while all poor-risk patients received post-induction imatinib with chemotherapy. Patients were stratified by study group. The chemotherapy regimen was modelled on a Berlin–Frankfurt–Munster high-risk backbone; all received four post-induction blocks of chemotherapy after which they became eligible for stem-cell transplantation. The primary endpoints were disease-free survival at 4 years in the good-risk group and event-free survival at 4 years in the poor-risk group, analysed by intention to treat and a secondary analysis of patients as treated. The trial is registered with EudraCT (2004-001647-30) and, number NCT00287105.
Between Jan 1, 2004, and Dec 31, 2009, we screened 229 patients and enrolled 178: 108 were good risk and 70 poor risk. 46 good-risk patients were assigned to receive imatinib and 44 to receive no imatinib. Median follow-up was 3·1 years (IQR 2·0–4·6). 4-year disease-free survival was 72·9% (95% CI 56·1–84·1) in the good-risk, imatinib group versus 61·7% (45·0–74·7) in the good-risk, no imatinib group (p=0·24). The hazard ratio (HR) for failure, adjusted for minimal residual disease, was 0·63 (0·28–1·41; p=0·26). The as-treated analysis showed 4-year disease-free survival was 75·2% (61·0–84·9) for good-risk patients receiving imatinib and 55·9% (36·1–71·7) for those who did not receive imatinib (p=0·06). 4-year event-free survival for poor-risk patients was 53·5% (40·4–65·0). Serious adverse events were much the same in the good-risk groups, with infections caused by myelosuppression the most common. 16 patients in the good-risk imatinib group versus ten in the good-risk, no imatinib group (p=0·64), and 24 in the poor-risk group, had a serious adverse event.
Our results suggests that imatinib in conjunction with intensive chemotherapy is well tolerated and might be beneficial for treatment of children with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive ALL.
Projet Hospitalier de Recherche Clinique-Cancer (France), Fondazione Tettamanti-De Marchi and Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (Italy), Novartis Germany, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia Lymphoma Research, and Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
PMCID: PMC3431502  PMID: 22898679
20.  Role of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Adult Patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a heterogeneous disease, due to the expression of different biological and clinical risk factors, for which allogeneic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) is an effective consolidation therapy. The non-relapse mortality of alloHSCT remains significantly higher compared with that of conventional chemotherapy. Therefore, one of the main challenges in the care of ALL is to establish a more precise prognostic definition to select patients who could take advantage from an alloHSCT. Currently, the use of minimal residual disease following induction and early consolidation therapy has improved the prognostic accuracy in defining ALL risk class. In Philadelphia-positive ALL, the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors pre and post alloHSCT appears to improve outcomes significantly and, in the absence of specially designed clinical trials, alloHSCT remains the most effective post-remission therapy. Nowadays, alloHSCT can be performed according to various modalities encompassing the use of different conditioning regimens, as well as distinct donors and stem cell source, with a significant accessibility to transplant.
PMCID: PMC4235484  PMID: 25408851
21.  Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in a Very High Risk Group of Patients with the Support of Granulocyte Transfusion 
High risk patients with active fungal infection who had undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) with the support of granulocyte transfusions (GTX) as an adjunct to antifungal agents are reviewed retrospectively. Patients requiring immediate allogeneic HSCT for their primary hematological disorders (two severe aplastic anemia, one T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in second complete remission, one acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-in first complete remission, one T-ALL in refractory relapse) but were denied by other transplant programs due to active invasive fungal infections had undergone HSCT with the support of GTX at the stem cell transplantation unit of Gazi University. Five patients who had undergone six transplants were included in the study and received a total of 38 (3–13) granulocyte transfusions during these six transplants. The median granulocyte concentration was 3.4 × 1011 per apheresis bag. Full clinical and radiological recovery was achieved in three of the five high risk patients with active invasive fungal infection with the combination of antifungal agents and GTX. Even a very high risk patient with aplastic anemia who had undergone two consecutive transplants due to secondary graft failure was also cured of his primary disease despite the presence of multiple pulmonary fungus balls. Three of the five patients with very high risk features due to the underlying hematological disease and the associated active fungal infection were rescued with allogeneic HSCT performed with the support of GTX combined with antifungal agents. Despite the limitations of this report due to its retrospective nature, it suggests that GTX might be an alternative in patients with active fungal infections who otherwise are denied by the transplant programs. However, prospective randomized studies are required to draw a solid conclusion regarding the role of GTX in HSCT recipients in desperate situations such as active fungal infections.
PMCID: PMC3155722  PMID: 22942564
Stem cell transplantation; Granulocyte transfusion; Fungal infection; Anti-fungal treatment
22.  Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation in First Remission for Children With Ultra-High-Risk Features of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Children’s Oncology Group Study Report 
The prognosis for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has improved dramatically over the past quarter of a century. Despite improvements in the treatment of childhood ALL, relapse still occurs in 20 to 30% of patients. While many of these relapses occur in the “standard-risk” patients, approximately 10% of these patients present at diagnosis with clinical and biological features that identify them as very high risk of relapse. Children (2 months-21 years) with at least one ultra-high-risk feature (UHRF) of ALL in first remission treated on a frontline Children’s Cancer Group (CCG) ALL study with a matched family allogeneic donor were eligible for study entry onto CCG-1921 and an allogeneic bone marrow transplant (AlloBMT). Each patient received fractionated total body irradiation (1200 cGy) and cyclophosphamide (120 mg/kg) conditioning therapy followed by unmobilized bone marrow from a matched family donor. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis consisted of methotrexate and cyclosporin. Twenty-nine patients with median age of 8.7 years with UHRF ALL in first complete remission (CR1) received an AlloBMT from a family member. The incidence of grade II–IV acute GVHD was 20.7% and the incidence of chronic GVHD was 3.7%. AlloBMT conditioning regimen was well tolerated and only one patient (3%) had treatment-related mortality. Ten patients (35%) died due to progressive disease. The 5-year event free survival (EFS) for all patients was 58.6% and patients without cytogenetic abnormalities had a 5-year EFS of 77.8%. The 5-year EFS for infants and non-infants was 20.0% and 66.7% (log Rank p=0.01), respectively. Patients with Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL had a 5-year EFS of 66.7%. The children with UHRF of ALL may benefit from AlloBMT in CR1, especially patients with primary induction failure and Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL. Randomized prospective cooperative group studies are required to establish the role of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation vs intensive chemotherapy in children with UHRF ALL in CR1.
PMCID: PMC2731715  PMID: 17241927
childhood acute lympoblastic leukemia; stem cell transplant; Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL; infantile ALL; induction failure
23.  Allogeneic stem cell transplantation with alemtuzumab-based conditioning for patients with advanced chronic myelogenous leukemia 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2009;50(1):85-91.
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is the treatment of choice for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who have failed or are intolerant to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). Myeloablative conditioning regimens have been associated with high treatment-related mortality (TRM) rate in such patients, and reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) regimens are often preferred but have high rates of disease recurrence and graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). We report our experience with nine CML patients (four chronic phase and five with accelerated phase or blast crisis) who failed TKI and underwent allo-HSCT using an alemtuzumab-based RIC regimen. The conditioning regimen was well tolerated and induced engraftment in all patients, and complete cytogenetic remission (CCyR) in eight of nine. Four patients, all with a history of accelerated phase or blast crisis, died. Four of the five remaining patients had a cytogenetic relapse a median of 10 months after transplantation. Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI), TKI or both induced a CCyR in all cases. With a median follow-up of 47 months, five patients, including all those transplanted in first or second chronic phase, are alive and in remission. Allo-HSCT with an alemtuzumab-based conditioning regimen induces remission in patients with CML that have failed TKI therapy and has a low incidence of GVHD. Disease recurrence is frequent but responds to DLI. In some cases, restoration of susceptibility to TKI was observed. Outcomes may improve with the routine administration of post-transplant TKI.
PMCID: PMC3617055  PMID: 19142796
Chronic myelogenous leukemia; reduced-intensity conditioning; alemtuzumab; tyrosine kinase inhibitors
24.  Phase II trial of HyperCVAD and Dasatinib in patients with relapsed Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia or blast phase chronic myeloid leukemia 
American journal of hematology  2014;89(3):282-287.
Dasatinib is a second generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor, with activity in imatinib resistant Ph-positive ALL. We have treated 34 patients with relapsed Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (n=19) or lymphoid blast phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML-LB) (n=15) with the combination of dasatinib and the hyperCVAD regimen. Prior regimens included hyperCVAD plus imatinib (n=11, 4 had transplant in first CR), other combination chemotherapy (n=12), monotherapy with kinase inhibitors other than dasatinib (n=9), and investigational agents (n=2). Pre-treatment ABL mutations were noted in 10 patients. The overall response rate was 91%, with 24 patients (71%) achieving complete response (CR), and 7(21%) CR with incomplete platelet recovery (CRp). Two patients died during induction and one had progressive disease. Twenty-six patients (84%) achieved complete cytogenetic remission after one cycle of therapy. Overall, 13 patients (42%) achieved complete molecular response, and 11 patients (35%) had major molecular response (BCR-ABL/ABL<0.1%). Nine patients proceeded to allogeneic transplantation. Grade 3 and 4 toxicities included hemorrhage, pleural and pericardial effusions and infections. The median follow-up for patients with CML-LB is 37.5 months (range, 7–70 months) with a 3-yr overall survival of 70%; 68% remained in CR at 3 years. For ALL patients, the median follow-up is 52 months (range, 45–59 months) with a 3-year survival of 26%; 30% remain in CR at 3 years. The combination of HyperCVAD regimen with dasatinib is effective in patients with relapsed Ph-positive ALL and CML-LB.
PMCID: PMC4196860  PMID: 24779033
philadelphia; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; dasatinib; relapse
25.  Frequency analysis of TRBV subfamily sjTRECs to characterize T-cell reconstitution in acute leukemia patients after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation 
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) leads to a prolonged state of immunodeficiency and requires reconstitution of normal T-cell immunity. Signal joint T-cell receptor excision DNA circles (sjTRECs) are markers of developmental proximity to the thymus that have been used to evaluate thymic function related to T-cell immune reconstitution after HSCT. To assess the proliferative history in different T-cell receptor beta variable region (TRBV) subfamilies of T cells after HSCT, expansion of TRBV subfamily-naive T cells was determined by analysis of a series of TRBV-BD1 sjTRECs.
sjTRECs levels were detected by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 43 Chinese acute leukemia patients who underwent allo-HSCT. Twenty-three TRBV-BD1 sjTRECs were amplified by semi-nested PCR. Sixteen age-matched healthy volunteers served as normal controls.
sjTRECs levels were low or undetectable in the first 6 weeks after allo-HSCT and increased after 8 weeks post HSCT; however, sjTRECs levels at week 20 post-HSCT were still less than normal controls. Frequencies of TRBV subfamily sjTRECs in PBMCs from recipients at week 8 post-HSCT (29.17 ± 20.97%) or at week 16 post-HSCT (38.33 ± 9.03%) were significantly lower than those in donors (47.92 ± 13.82%) or recipients at pre-HSCT (45.83 ± 14.03%). However, frequencies of TRBV subfamily sjTRECs in recipients at week 30 post-HSCT (42.71 ± 21.62%) were similar to those in donors and recipients at pre-HSCT. sjTRECs levels in donors had a positive linear correlation with sjTRECs levels in recipients within 8-12 weeks post-HSCT. Patients with acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) or chronic GVHD had profoundly reduced TRECs levels during the first year post-HSCT. Frequencies of BV22-BD1 sjTRECs and BV23-BD1 sjTRECs in patients with GVHD were significantly lower than those in recipients at pre-HSCT, and the frequencies of BV22-BD1 sjTRECs in patients with GVHD were significantly lower than those in donors.
Reconstitution of thymic output function resulted in a period of immunodeficiency, with low or undetectable TRECs after transplantation, although fludarabine-based dose-reduced conditioning regimens were used. GVHD could affect reconstitution of thymic output function and reduce sjTRECs levels and frequencies of TRBV-BD1 sjTRECs. Low frequency of BV22-BD1 and BV23-BD1 sjTRECs might be associated with GVHD.
PMCID: PMC3094391  PMID: 21513557

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