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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.  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
3.  Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in Adults 
Current opinion in oncology  2012;24(2):182-190.
Purpose of review
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a heterogeneous disease, for which treatment guidelines are still evolving. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation is a potentially curative therapeutic modality for ALL and this review describes recent studies and current practice patterns concerning the who, when, and how of alloHCT in the management of ALL.
Recent findings
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with ALL after first relapse, and is also recommended for high-risk patients in first complete remission (CR1). Minimal residual disease evaluation and monitoring is developing as an important prognostic factor and could guide physicians in determining which patients, especially those with standard risk, might require transplant. Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy allows a much higher proportion of Philadelphia-chromosome-positive ALL patients to attain remission and proceed to transplant with improved results; post-transplant TKI maintainance therapy may also provide survival benefit. Reduced-intensity conditioning regimens are a reasonable alternative for patients who would otherwise be ineligible for transplant due to age or co-morbidity.
For patients with high-risk features, there is general agreement that allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation in CR1 is a potentially curative option; however, there is no consensus on early transplant for standard risk patients.
PMCID: PMC3520484  PMID: 22234252
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Graft-versus-leukemia; Philadelphia chromosome; ALL; Minimual residual disease
4.  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
5.  Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for a BCR-FGFR1 Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Presenting as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Case Reports in Hematology  2012;2012:620967.
Hematopoietic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNS) with rearrangements of the receptor tyrosine kinase FGFR1 gene, located on chromosome 8p11, are uncommon and associated with diverse presentations such as atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, or an acute T- or B-lymphoblastic leukemia, reflecting the hematopoietic stem cell origin of the disease. A review of MPN patients with the t(8;22) translocation that results in a chimeric BCR-FGFR1 fusion gene reveals that this disease either presents or rapidly transforms into an acute leukemia that is generally unresponsive to currently available chemotherapeutic regimens including tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIS). The first case of a rare BCR-FGFR1 MPN presenting in a B-acute lymphoblastic phase who underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) with a subsequent sustained complete molecular remission is described. Allogeneic HSCT is currently the only available therapy capable of achieving long-term remission in BCR-FGFR1 MPN patients.
PMCID: PMC3467796  PMID: 23082258
6.  Persistent complete molecular remission after nilotinib and graft-versus-leukemia effect in an acute lymphoblastic leukemia patient with cytogenetic relapse after allogeneic stem cell transplantation 
We report the successful treatment and sustained molecular remission using single agent nilotinib in a relapsed Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia patient after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Compared to previously published studies, this is the first report where a patient did not receive additional chemotherapy after relapse, nor did she receive donor lymphocyte infusions. With nilotinib, the patient reverted back to normal blood counts and 100% donor reconstitution by single tandem repeat (STR) chimerism analysis in the bone marrow and in peripheral blood, granulocytes, T and B-lymphocytes. This report also highlights the use of nilotinib in combination with extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) for concomitant graft-versus-host disease. Our data suggests that ECP, together with nilotinib, did not adversely affect the overall Graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect.
PMCID: PMC3514141  PMID: 23210606
Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (PH + ALL); Nilotinib; Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP); Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); Graft-versus-leukemia effect (GVL); Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT)
7.  Clinical Outcome of Children With Newly Diagnosed Philadelphia Chromosome–Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treated Between 1995 and 2005 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(31):4755-4761.
In a previous analysis of 326 children with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph) –positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated between 1986 and 1996, hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation from HLA-matched related donors, but not from unrelated donors, offered a superior outcome than chemotherapy alone. To evaluate the impact of recent improvements in chemotherapy and transplantation, we performed a similar analysis on patients treated in the following decade.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed 610 patients with Ph-positive ALL treated between 1995 and 2005 without tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. The median follow-up duration was 6.3 years.
Complete remission was achieved in 89% of patients. The 7-year event-free survival and overall survival rates were superior in the present cohort compared with the previous cohort (32.0% ± 2.0% v 25.0% ± 3.0, respectively, P = .007; and 44.9% ± 2.2% v 36.0% ± 3.0%, respectively, P = .017). Compared with chemotherapy alone, transplantation with matched related donors or unrelated donors in first remission (325 patients) showed an advantage with increasing follow-up, suggesting greater protection against late relapses (hazard ratio at 5 years, 0.37; P < .001). In the multivariate Cox regression analysis accounting for treatment (transplantation v no transplantation), age, leukocyte count, and early response had independent impact on treatment outcome.
Clinical outcome of children and adolescents with Ph-positive ALL has improved with advances in transplantation and chemotherapy. Transplantations with matched related donors and unrelated donors were equivalent and offered better disease control compared with chemotherapy alone. Age, leukocyte count, and early treatment response were independent prognostic indicators. The results of this study will serve as a historical reference to evaluate the therapeutic impact of tyrosine kinase inhibitors on the outcome of Ph-positive ALL.
PMCID: PMC3020705  PMID: 20876426
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  Impact of age, leukocyte count and day 21-bone marrow response to chemotherapy on the long-term outcome of children with philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the pre-imatinib era: results of the FRALLE 93 study 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:14.
We explored the heterogeneity of philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph1-ALL) in a study of the effect of early features on prognosis in children. Here we report the long-term results of the FRALLE 93 study conducted in the era before the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Between 1993 and 1999, 36 children with Ph1-ALL were enrolled into the FRALLE 93 protocol. After conventional four-drug induction, children were stratified by availability of an HLA-matched sibling.
Complete remission (CR) was observed in 26 children (72%), of which 13 underwent allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Thirty-one children were good responders to prednisone, defined on day 8, and 21 were good responders to chemotherapy, defined by day-21 bone marrow (M1). Overall five-year disease-free survival (DFS) was 42 ± 9.7%. Based on multivariate analysis, two groups showed marked differences in five-year outcome: children with age<10, leukocyte count <100,000/mm3 and day-21 M1 marrow had a more favorable prognosis (14 pts: 100% CR, event free survival [EFS]: 57%, overall survival [OS]: 79%), than the high-risk group (22 patients: 55% CR, EFS: 18%, OS: 27%) (p < 0.005). We also observed a non statistically significant difference (p = 0.14) in outcome between these groups for transplanted patients (5-year DFS: 83 ± 14% and 33 ± 15%, respectively).
Age, leukocyte count and early response to treatment defined by the D21 bone marrow response provide an accurate model for outcome prediction. The combination of available tools such as minimal residual disease assessment with determination of these simple factors could be useful for refining indications for BMT in the current era of tyrosine-kinase inhibitor-based therapy.
PMCID: PMC2629767  PMID: 19144139
13.  Pathogenetic, Clinical, and Prognostic Features of Adult t(4;11)(q21;q23)/MLL-AF4 Positive B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Advances in Hematology  2011;2011:621627.
Translocation t(4;11)(q21;q23) leading to formation of MLL-AF4 fusion gene is found in about 10% of newly diagnosed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adult patients. Patients expressing this chromosomal aberration present typical biological, immunophenotypic, and clinical features. This form of leukemia is universally recognized as high-risk leukemia and treatment intensification with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in first complete remission (CR) could be a valid option to improve prognosis, but data obtained from the literature are controversial. In this review, we briefly describe pathogenetic, clinical, and prognostic characteristics of adult t(4;11)(q21;q23)/MLL-AF4 positive ALL and provide a review of the clinical outcome reported by the most important cooperative groups worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3235494  PMID: 22190943
14.  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
15.  A suitable conditioning regimen in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is one of the intractable diseases in hematological malignancies, showing about 30% long-term survival by intensive chemotherapies with high incidence of relapse. Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allogeneic HSCT) has been therefore applied to many such patients, showing better responses than chemotherapy and autologous HSCT, although there were some controversial results regarding a timing of allogeneic HSCT, especially in standard-risk ALL patients. In general, a better outcome (about 40% to 60% long-term survival) is obtained when adult high-risk patients in first complete remission (CR1) or second complete remission (CR2) received allogeneic HSCT using conventional myeloablative conditioning (MAC) regimens.Long-termsurvival decreased depending on the remission status; namely, about 20-40% in CR2, 10-20% in ≧CR3, and about 10%in non-CR. The most common MAC regimens for allogeneic HSCT in ALL patients are 120 mg/kg cyclophosphamide (CY) plus 12 to 13.2 gray (Gy) fractionated total body irradiation (TBI). By these conditioning regimens, the 3-year overall survival (OS) rate of about 50% was obtained when it was performed in CR1.In fact, when we analyzedthedata for 515 patients aged 15 to 59 years who received allogeneic HSCT in CR1 or CR2 with CY/TBI regimen between 1993 and 2007 from the Japan Society for Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation data base and the Japan Marrow Donor Program data base, the 5-year OS rate was 55.2%. In contrast, we have used medium-dose VP-16 in addition to conventional CY/TBI regimen to eradicate minimal residual disease. This regimen showed an excellent outcome in adult ALL patients transplanted in CR1, resulting in the 3-year OS rate of 89.2% without increasing the 3-year relapse rate (8.1%) and transplant-related mortality (TRM) rate (5.4%). Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) regimens are also applied for adult ALL patients with favorable outcomes (the 2- to 3- year OS rate: 30% to 60%); however, the 2- to 3-year relapse rate (20% to 40%) and TRM rate (20% to 30%) are still high. Therefore, a suitable conditioning regimen in allogeneic HSCT for adult ALL patients aged younger 50 years old in CR1 appears to be medium-dose VP/CY/TBI, while RIC regimens are preferable for patients aged over 50 years old or younger patients with some complications.
PMCID: PMC3908267
16.  Biology and treatment of adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1996;164(2):143-155.
The molecular analysis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has provided exciting insights into the pathogenesis of this disease. This disease is heterogenous and can be subtyped based on chromosomal, immunophenotypic, and structural criteria. The varying prognostic implications of different ALL subtypes markedly influence the treatment decisions in adults. Many patients with T-cell ALL can be cured with chemotherapy alone. In contrast, patients with early B-lineage ALL with certain chromosomal abnormalities, especially the Philadelphia chromosome, do not have durable responses to chemotherapy and should receive a bone marrow transplantation if an HLA-matched donor is available. Recent reports have shown improved results for adults with B-cell ALL (Burkitt's) after intensive alternating cycles of chemotherapy containing high doses of methotrexate and cyclophosphamide. Future clinical and laboratory investigation should lead to the development of novel and possibly more effective treatments specifically tailored for different subsets of ALL.
PMCID: PMC1303386  PMID: 8775728
17.  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
18.  Cannabis Extract Treatment for Terminal Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome Mutation 
Case Reports in Oncology  2013;6(3):585-592.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells and is typically well treated with combination chemotherapy, with a remission state after 5 years of 94% in children and 30–40% in adults. To establish how aggressive the disease is, further chromosome testing is required to determine whether the cancer is myeloblastic and involves neutrophils, eosinophils or basophils, or lymphoblastic involving B or T lymphocytes. This case study is on a 14-year-old patient diagnosed with a very aggressive form of ALL (positive for the Philadelphia chromosome mutation). A standard bone marrow transplant, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy were revoked, with treatment being deemed a failure after 34 months. Without any other solutions provided by conventional approaches aside from palliation, the family administered cannabinoid extracts orally to the patient. Cannabinoid resin extract is used as an effective treatment for ALL with a positive Philadelphia chromosome mutation and indications of dose-dependent disease control. The clinical observation in this study revealed a rapid dose-dependent correlation.
PMCID: PMC3901602  PMID: 24474921
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Philadelphia chromosome; Cannabinoids; Hemp oil
19.  Molecular Diagnostics, Targeted Therapy, and the Indication for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Advances in Hematology  2011;2011:154745.
In recent years, the panel of known molecular mutations in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been continuously increased. In Philadelphia-positive ALL, deletions of the IKZF1 gene were identified as prognostically adverse factors. These improved insights in the molecular background and the clinical heterogeneity of distinct cytogenetic subgroups may allow most differentiated therapeutic decisions, for example, with respect to the indication to allogeneic HSCT within genetically defined ALL subtypes. Quantitative real-time PCR allows highly sensitive monitoring of the minimal residual disease (MRD) load, either based on reciprocal gene fusions or immune gene rearrangements. Molecular diagnostics provided the basis for targeted therapy concepts, for example, combining the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib with chemotherapy in patients with Philadelphia-positive ALL. Screening for BCR-ABL1 mutations in Philadelphia-positive ALL allows to identify patients who may benefit from second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors or from novel compounds targeting the T315I mutation. Considering the central role of the molecular techniques for the management of patients with ALL, efforts should be made to facilitate and harmonize immunophenotyping, cytogenetics, and molecular mutation screening. Furthermore, the potential of high-throughput sequencing should be evaluated for diagnosis and follow-up of patients with B-lineage ALL.
PMCID: PMC3216286  PMID: 22110503
20.  Imatinib Treatment Alone in Philadelphia-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Is It Enough? 
Case Reports in Oncology  2010;4(2):323-326.
BCR-ABL fusion gene t(9;22)(q34;q11) occurs in only 3% of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. Previously, less than 40% of Philadelphia-positive ALL patients were cured with intensive chemotherapy. The use of imatinib (340 mg/m2/day) added to an intensive chemotherapy regimen has improved the outcome in this population at 3 years to an event-free survival of 80%. Imatinib treatment alone was administered after remission induction chemotherapy to a patient with Philadelphia-positive ALL who presented with serious chemotherapy toxicity, so that intensive chemotherapy could not be maintained. This is the only patient in the literature who survived remission for more than 2.5 years with imatinib treatment only.
PMCID: PMC3130983  PMID: 21738503
Imatinib; Pediatrics; Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia
21.  Inhibition of PI3K/mTOR Overcomes Nilotinib Resistance in BCR-ABL1 Positive Leukemia Cells through Translational Down-Regulation of MDM2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83510.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a cytogenetic disorder resulting from formation of the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph), that is, the t(9;22) chromosomal translocation and the formation of the BCR-ABL1 fusion protein. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), such as imatinib and nilotinib, have emerged as leading compounds with which to treat CML. t(9;22) is not restricted to CML, 20-30% of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases also carry the Ph. However, TKIs are not as effective in the treatment of Ph+ ALL as in CML. In this study, the Ph+ cell lines JURL-MK2 and SUP-B15 were used to investigate TKI resistance mechanisms and the sensitization of Ph+ tumor cells to TKI treatment. The annexin V/PI (propidium iodide) assay revealed that nilotinib induced apoptosis in JURL-MK2 cells, but not in SUP-B15 cells. Since there was no mutation in the tyrosine kinase domain of BCR-ABL1 in cell line SUP-B15, the cells were not generally unresponsive to TKI, as evidenced by dephosphorylation of the BCR-ABL1 downstream targets, Crk-like protein (CrkL) and Grb-associated binder-2 (GAB2). Resistance to apoptosis after nilotinib treatment was accompanied by the constitutive and nilotinib unresponsive activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. Treatment of SUP-B15 cells with the dual PI3K/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor BEZ235 alone induced apoptosis in a low percentage of cells, while combining nilotinib and BEZ235 led to a synergistic effect. The main role of PI3K/mTOR inhibitor BEZ235 and the reason for apoptosis in the nilotinib-resistant cells was the block of the translational machinery, leading to the rapid downregulation of the anti-apoptotic protein MDM2 (human homolog of the murine double minute-2). These findings highlight MDM2 as a potential therapeutic target to increase TKI-mediated apoptosis and imply that the combination of PI3K/mTOR inhibitor and TKI might form a novel strategy to combat TKI-resistant BCR-ABL1 positive leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3859659  PMID: 24349524
22.  Improved outcome in childhood ALL with intensive consolidation and hematopoietic stem cell transplant 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2010;45(2):109-114.
Despite advances in chemotherapy, the prognosis of relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remains poor. Few studies on relapsed ALL have reported the importance of intensive consolidation followed with or without allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
We evaluated the post-relapse outcomes in 47 Korean children with a first marrow relapse, and analyzed the prognostic factors.
A second complete remission (CR) was achieved in 40 patients (85.1%), and at the time of this study, second CR was maintained in 12 of these patients. The estimated 3-yr event-free survival (EFS) rate after the first marrow relapse was 29.8±6.7%, and the overall survival (OS) rate was 45.3±7.5%. We found that second remission, consolidation of pediatric oncology group chemotherapy regimen (POG 9411), and HSCT significantly affected the outcome of the disease after relapse (P<0.001; P=0.004; P=0.05).
The results of our study revealed that an intensified POG 9411 consolidation chemotherapy regimen followed by HSCT can improve the outcome of patients with relapsed ALL.
PMCID: PMC2983016  PMID: 21120189
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Relapse; Intensive consolidation; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
23.  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
24.  Transplant-Related Mortality Following Allogeneic Hematopoeitic Stem Cell Transplantation for Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: 25-Year Retrospective Review 
Pediatric Blood & Cancer  2013;60(9):1520-1527.
Over the last 25 years, donor source, conditioning, graft-versus-host disease prevention and supportive care for children undergoing hematopoeitic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) have changed dramatically. HSCT indications for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) now include high-risk patients in first and subsequent remission. There is a large burden of infectious and pre-HSCT morbidities, due to myelosuppressive therapy required for remission induction. We hypothesized that, despite these trends, overall survival (OS) had increased.
A retrospective audit of allogeneic pediatric HSCT for ALL was performed in our institution over 25 years. Outcomes for 136 HSCTs were analyzed in three consecutive 8-year periods (Period 1: 1/1/1984–31/8/1992, Period 2: 1/9/1992–30/4/2001, Period 3: 1/5/2001–31/12/2009).
Despite a significant increase in unrelated donor HSCT, event-free and OS over 25 years improved significantly. (EFS 31.6–64.8%, P = 0.0027; OS 41.8–78.9%, P < 0.0001) Concurrently, TRM dropped from 33% to 5% (P = 0.0004) whilst relapse rate was static (P = 0.07). TRM reduced significantly for matched sibling and unrelated cord blood transplantation (UCT) in Period 3 compared with earlier periods (P = 0.036, P = 0.0098, respectively). Factors leading to improved survival in patients undergoing UCT include better matching, higher total nucleated cell doses, and significantly faster neutrophil engraftment. Length of initial HSCT admission was similar over time.
EFS and OS have increased significantly despite heightened HSCT complexity. This survival gain was due to TRM reduction. Contemporary patients have benefited from refined donor selection and improved supportive care. Overall rates of leukemic relapse post-HSCT are unchanged, and remain the focus for improvement.
PMCID: PMC3798104  PMID: 23733511
hematopoeitic stem cell transplant; lymphoblastic leukemia; outcomes; pediatric acute survival; transplant-related mortality
25.  Transplantation and innate immunity: the lesson of natural killer cells 
Natural killer cells have been demonstrated to play a major role in mediating an anti-leukemia effect in patients given a T-cell depleted allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from an HLA-haploidentical family donor. In particular, donor-derived natural killer cells, which are alloreactive (i.e. KIR/HLA mismatched) towards recipient cells, significantly contribute to the eradication of leukemia blasts escaping the preparative regimen to transplantation. A recent study on high-risk pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia refractory to chemotherapy further highlighted the importance of donors with alloreactive natural killer cells in haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, as it demonstrated that these cells can emerge starting from the fourth-fifth month after the allograft and persist for many months. This study represents a major breakthrough in the cure of otherwise fatal leukemias, providing information on the best criteria for choosing the optimal donor.
PMCID: PMC2806872  PMID: 20076779

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