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1.  Long-term Results Of the Pediatric Oncology Group Studies For Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 1984-2001: A Report From The Children’s Oncology Group 
Leukemia  2009;24(2):355-370.
From 1984-2001, the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) conducted 12 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) studies. 10-year event free survival (EFS) for patients >12 months of age with B-precursor ALL on Acute Leukemia in Children 14, 15, and 16 series were 66.7 ± 1.2%, 68.1 ± 1.4% and 73.2 ± 2.1%, respectively. Intermediate dose methotrexate (ID MTX; 1 g/m2) improved outcomes for standard risk patients (10-year EFS 77.5 ± 2.7% vs. 66.3 ± 3.1% for oral MTX). Neither MTX intensification (2.5 g/m2) nor addition of cytosine arabinoside/daunomycin/teniposide improved outcomes for higher risk patients. Intermediate dose mercaptopurine (1 g/m2) failed to improve outcomes for either group. 10-year EFS for patients with T-cell ALL, POG 8704 and 9404, were 49.1 ± 3.1% and 72.2 ± 4.7%, respectively. Intensive asparaginase (10-year EFS 61.8% vs 42.7%) and high dose MTX (5 g/m2) (10-year EFS 78.0% vs. 65.8%) improved outcomes. There was a non-significant improvement in EFS for infants (10-year EFS 17.7 ± 7.2% to 31.9 ± 8.3%). Prognostic indicators for B-precursor ALL were age and WBC at diagnosis, gender, central nervous system disease, DNA index, and cytogenetic abnormalities. Only gender was prognostic in T-cell ALL. In infants, WBC and MLL translocation were linked to inferior outcome.
PMCID: PMC4300959  PMID: 20016527
B-lineage ALL; T-lineage ALL; Infant ALL; Prognostic factors; Outcome
2.  TPMT and MTHFR Genotype is not Associated With Altered Risk of Thioguanine-Related Sinusoidal Obstruction Syndrome in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Report from the Children’s Oncology Group 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(11):2086-2088.
Sinusoidal obstruction syndrome is a complication of therapy for pediatric ALL and may be modified by thiopurine methyltransferase activity as well as by MTHFR genotype. We assessed TPMT * 3A, * 3B, * 3C, and MTHFR C677T and A1298C germline genetic polymorphisms among 351 patients enrolled in the thioguanine treatment arm of CCG-1952 clinical trial. TPMT and MTHFR C677T genotypes were not associated with SOS risk. The combination of MTHFR and TPMT variant genotypes was not associated with SOS risk. These suggest that germline genetic variation in TPMT and MTHFR do not significantly alter SOS risk in patients exposed to thioguanine.
PMCID: PMC4283196  PMID: 24737678
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; MTHFR; SOS; thioguanine; TPMT; toxicity
3.  Family Life Events in the First Year of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Therapy: A Children’s Oncology Group Report 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(12):2277-2284.
Despite higher cure rates, childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may continue to result in considerable family strain. We sought to (i) measure incidence of divorce, reduced career opportunities, changes to work hours, home relocation, and changes to family planning at one year after ALL diagnosis; and (ii) Identify family and patient factors associated with these events.
We conducted a prospective cohort study of 159 children with average risk-ALL enrolled and treated on COG protocol AALL0331 at 31 selected sites. Eligibility criteria included age ≥2 years and English or Spanish comprehension. Parents completed surveys at three time points during the first 12 months of therapy.
Parents were at significantly increased risk of loss of employment (46% vs. 9.1%, P≤0.001) than peers nationally. 13% divorced/separated, 27% relocated homes, 22% decided not to have more children, 51% declined occupational opportunities, and 68% decreased work hours. In adjusted analyses, relocation correlated with less maternal education (OR: 4.27 [95% CI: 1.43–12.82]). Declining parental opportunities associated with family income <$50,000 (OR: 4.25 [95% CI: 1.50–12.02]) and child <5 years old (OR: 4.21 [95% CI: 1.73–10.25]). Deciding not to have more children correlated with smaller family size 2–3 versus 4–5 (OR: 3.62 [95% CI: 1.10–11.96]).
Families experience a high incidence of major life changes in the first year of ALL treatment. Understanding these burdens helps health care providers to provide appropriate anticipatory guidance and support. No unifying factor was associated with the different family events. Ongoing follow-up is planned to measure long-term outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4282930  PMID: 25175168
family coping/functioning; leukemia; pediatric cancer
4.  Pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics of daunorubicin in children: a report from the Children’s Oncology Group 
We explored the impact of obesity, body composition, and genetic polymorphisms on the pharmacokinetics (PK) of daunorubicin in children with cancer.
Patients and methods
Patients ≤21 years receiving daunorubicin as an infusion of any duration <24 h for any type of cancer were eligible. Plasma drug concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Body composition was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Obesity was defined as a BMI >95 % for age or as body fat >30 %. NONMEM was used to perform PK model fitting. The Affymetrix DMET chip was used for genotyping. The impact of genetic polymorphisms was investigated using SNP/haplotype association analysis with estimated individual PK parameters.
A total of 107 subjects were enrolled, 98 patients had PK sampling, and 50 patients underwent DNA analysis. Population estimates for daunorubicin clearance and volume of distribution were 116 L/m2/h ± 14 % and 68.1 L/m2 ± 24 %, respectively. Apparent daunorubicinol clearance and volume of distribution were 26.8 L/m2/h ± 5.6 % and 232 L/m2 ± 10 %, respectively. No effect of body composition or obesity was observed on PK. Forty-four genes with variant haplotypes were tested for association with PK. FMO3-H1/H3 genotype was associated with lower daunorubicin clearance than FMO3-H1/ H1, p = 0.00829. GSTP1*B/*B genotype was also associated with lower daunorubicin clearance compared to GSTP1*A/*A, p = 0.0347. However, neither of these associations was significant after adjusting for multiple testing by either Bonferroni or false discovery rate correction.
We did not detect an effect of body composition or obesity on daunorubicin PK. We found suggestive associations between FMO3 and GSTP1 haplotypes with daunorubicin PK that could potentially affect efficacy and toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4282931  PMID: 25119182
Daunorubicin; Daunorubicinol; Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacogenetics; Pediatrics; Body composition; Obesity
5.  Intrachromosomal Amplification of Chromosome 21 Is Associated With Inferior Outcomes in Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treated in Contemporary Standard-Risk Children's Oncology Group Studies: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(27):3397-3402.
Five-year overall survival (OS) for children with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) exceeds 90% with risk-adapted therapy. Age, initial WBC count, genetic aberrations, and minimal residual disease (MRD) are used for risk stratification. Intrachromosomal amplification of a region of chromosome 21 (iAMP21; three or more extra copies of RUNX1 on an abnormal chromosome 21) is a recently identified recurrent genomic lesion associated with inferior outcome in some studies. We investigated the impact of iAMP21 in a large cohort treated in contemporary Children's Oncology Group (COG) ALL trials.
Patients and Methods
Fluorescent in situ hybridization for specific genetic aberrations was required at diagnosis. MRD was measured by flow cytometry at end induction. Outcome was measured as event-free survival (EFS) and OS.
iAMP21 was found in 158 (2%) of 7,793 patients with B-ALL age ≥ 1 year; 74 (1.5%) of 5,057 standard-risk (SR) patients, and 84 (3.1%) of 2,736 high-risk (HR) patients. iAMP21 was associated with age ≥ 10 years, WBC less than 50,000/μL, female sex, and detectable MRD at day 29. Four-year EFS and OS were significantly worse for patients with iAMP21 and SR B-ALL, but iAMP21 was not a statistically significant prognostic factor in HR patients. There was no interaction between MRD and iAMP21. Among SR patients, day 29 MRD ≥ 0.01% and iAMP21 were associated with the poorest EFS and OS; absence of both was associated with the best outcome.
iAMP21 is associated with inferior outcome in pediatric B-ALL, particularly SR patients who require more intensive therapy and are now treated on HR COG ALL protocols.
PMCID: PMC3770866  PMID: 23940221
6.  Genomic profiling in Down syndrome acute lymphoblastic leukemia identifies histone gene deletions associated with altered methylation profiles 
Leukemia  2011;25(10):1555-1563.
Patients with Down syndrome (DS) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have distinct clinical and biological features. Whereas most DS-ALL cases lack the sentinel cytogenetic lesions that guide risk assignment in childhood ALL, JAK2 mutations and CRLF2 overexpression are highly enriched. To further characterize the unique biology of DS-ALL, we performed genome-wide profiling of 58 DS-ALL and 68 non-Down syndrome (NDS) ALL cases by DNA copy number, loss of heterozygosity, gene expression, and methylation analyses. We report a novel deletion within the 6p22 histone gene cluster as significantly more frequent in DS-ALL, occurring in 11 DS (22%) and only two NDS cases (3.1%) (Fisher’s exact p = 0.002). Homozygous deletions yielded significantly lower histone expression levels, and were associated with higher methylation levels, distinct spatial localization of methylated promoters, and enrichment of highly methylated genes for specific pathways and transcription factor binding motifs. Gene expression profiling demonstrated heterogeneity of DS-ALL cases overall, with supervised analysis defining a 45-transcript signature associated with CRLF2 overexpression. Further characterization of pathways associated with histone deletions may identify opportunities for novel targeted interventions.
PMCID: PMC4107887  PMID: 21647151
Down syndrome; acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); histone; JAK2; CRLF2
7.  Second Malignant Neoplasms After Treatment of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(19):2469-2476.
Second malignant neoplasms (SMNs) after diagnosis of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are rare events.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed data on risk factors and outcomes of 642 children with SMNs occurring after treatment for ALL from 18 collaborative study groups between 1980 and 2007.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML; n = 186), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS; n = 69), and nonmeningioma brain tumor (n = 116) were the most common types of SMNs and had the poorest outcome (5-year survival rate, 18.1% ± 2.9%, 31.1% ± 6.2%, and 18.3% ± 3.8%, respectively). Five-year survival estimates for AML were 11.2% ± 2.9% for 125 patients diagnosed before 2000 and 34.1% ± 6.3% for 61 patients diagnosed after 2000 (P < .001); 5-year survival estimates for MDS were 17.1% ± 6.4% (n = 36) and 48.2% ± 10.6% (n = 33; P = .005). Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation failed to improve outcome of secondary myeloid malignancies after adjusting for waiting time to transplantation. Five-year survival rates were above 90% for patients with meningioma, Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and parotid gland tumor, and 68.5% ± 6.4% for those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Eighty-nine percent of patients with brain tumors had received cranial irradiation. Solid tumors were associated with cyclophosphamide exposure, and myeloid malignancy was associated with topoisomerase II inhibitors and starting doses of methotrexate of at least 25 mg/m2 per week and mercaptopurine of at least 75 mg/m2 per day. Myeloid malignancies with monosomy 7/5q− were associated with high hyperdiploid ALL karyotypes, whereas 11q23/MLL-rearranged AML or MDS was associated with ALL harboring translocations of t(9;22), t(4;11), t(1;19), and t(12;21) (P = .03).
SMNs, except for brain tumors, AML, and MDS, have outcomes similar to their primary counterparts.
PMCID: PMC3807139  PMID: 23690411
8.  Considerations in the design of clinical trials for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Clinical investigation  2013;3(9):10.4155/cli.13.71.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common pediatric malignancy. Although outcomes for children with ALL have improved dramatically over the last 50 years, ALL remains the leading cause of childhood cancer death. In addition, high-risk patient subsets can be identified with significantly inferior survival. In the current era of therapies directed at specific molecular targets, the use of conventional randomized Phase III trials to show benefit from a new treatment regimen may not be feasible when these biologically defined subsets are small. This review presents the traditional approaches to designing trials for children with ALL, as well as innovative approaches attempting to study the benefit of new treatments as reliably as possible for patient subsets with distinctive biological characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3834963  PMID: 24273641
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; clinical trials; historical controls
9.  Children’s Oncology Group’s 2013 Blueprint for Research: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;60(6):957-963.
Approximately 90% of the 2,000 children, adolescents, and young adults enrolled each year in Children’s Oncology Group acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) trials will be cured. However, high-risk subsets with significantly inferior survival remain, including infants, newly diagnosed patients with age ≥10 years, white blood count ≥50,000/µl, poor early response or T-cell ALL, and relapsed ALL patients. Effective strategies to improve survival include better risk stratification, optimizing standard chemotherapy and combining targeted therapies with cytotoxic chemotherapy, the latter of which is dependent upon identification of key driver mutations present in ALL.
PMCID: PMC4045498  PMID: 23255467
acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); COG ALL trials
10.  Novel Susceptibility Variants at 10p12.31-12.2 for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Ethnically Diverse Populations 
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children and the incidence of ALL varies by ethnicity. Although accumulating evidence indicates inherited predisposition to ALL, the genetic basis of ALL susceptibility in diverse ancestry has not been comprehensively examined.
We performed a multiethnic genome-wide association study in 1605 children with ALL and 6661 control subjects after adjusting for population structure, with validation in three replication series of 845 case subjects and 4316 control subjects. Association was tested by two-sided logistic regression.
A novel ALL susceptibility locus at 10p12.31-12.2 (BMI1-PIP4K2A, rs7088318, P = 1.1×10−11) was identified in the genome-wide association study, with independent replication in European Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans (P = .001, .009, and .04, respectively). Association was also validated at four known ALL susceptibility loci: ARID5B, IKZF1, CEBPE, and CDKN2A/2B. Associations at ARID5B, IKZF1, and BMI1-PIP4K2A variants were consistent across ethnicity, with multiple independent signals at IKZF1 and BMI1-PIP4K2A loci. The frequency of ARID5B and BMI1-PIP4K2A variants differed by ethnicity, in parallel with ethnic differences in ALL incidence. Suggestive evidence for modifying effects of age on genetic predisposition to ALL was also observed. ARID5B, IKZF1, CEBPE, and BMI1-PIP4K2A variants cumulatively conferred strong predisposition to ALL, with children carrying six to eight copies of risk alleles at a ninefold (95% confidence interval = 6.9 to 11.8) higher ALL risk relative to those carrying zero to one risk allele at these four single nucleotide polymorphisms.
These findings indicate strong associations between inherited genetic variation and ALL susceptibility in children and shed new light on ALL molecular etiology in diverse ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3691938  PMID: 23512250
11.  Modifications to Induction Therapy Decrease Risk of Early Death in Infants With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treated on Children’s Oncology Group P9407 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;59(5):834-839.
Infants (<366 days of age) with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have a poor prognosis. Most treatment failures occur within 6–9 months of diagnosis, primarily from relapse.
The Children’s Oncology Group P9407 study was designed to test if early intensified treatment would improve outcome for infants with ALL. Due to a significant number of early deaths (< 90 days from enrollment), Induction therapy was amended three times. Cohorts 1 + 2 (n = 68), received identical Induction therapy except for reduced daunorubicin dose in Cohort 2. Cohort 3 (n = 141) received prednisone (40 mg/m2/day) instead of dexamethasone (10 mg/m2/day) and short infusion daunorubicin (30 minutes) instead of continuous infusion (48 hours), as well as additional supportive care measures throughout therapy.
Early deaths occurred in 17/68 (25%) infants in Cohorts 1 + 2 and 8/141 (5.7%) infants in Cohort 3 (P < 0.0001). Among infants ≤90 days of age at diagnosis, early death occurred in 10/17 (58.8%) in Cohorts 1 + 2 and 4/27 (14.8%) in Cohort 3 (P = 0.006). Among infants >90 days of age at diagnosis, early death occurred in 7/51 (13.7%) in Cohorts 1 + 2 and 4/114 (3.5%) in Cohort 3 (P = 0.036). Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections were more common in Cohorts 1 + 2 versus Cohort 3.
Early morbidity and mortality for infants with ALL were reduced by substitution of prednisone (40 mg/m2/day) for dexamethasone (10 mg/m2/day), the delivery of daunorubicin over 30 minutes instead of a continuous infusion for 48 hours, and the provision of more specific supportive care measures.
PMCID: PMC4008315  PMID: 22488662
infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia; mortality
12.  Treatment of Relapsed Precursor-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia With Intensive Chemotherapy: POG (Pediatric Oncology Group) Study 9411 (SIMAL 9) 
Pediatric patients who experience a bone marrow relapse of precursor-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia are cured < 50% of the time. This study was designed to determine if intensification of therapies with known activity in this disease would improve the cure rates for patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Patients were treated with intensive asparaginase during induction followed by repeated cycles of ifosfamide/etoposide and cytarabine/idarubicin. Patients with well-matched related donors were encouraged to undergo hematopoietic stem cell transplant as consolidation. The results of this study demonstrate no significant difference in disease-free survival in patients who received chemotherapy alone (45%) or chemotherapy followed by allogeneic stem cell transplant (50%). Furthermore, results from this study show no significant difference in event-free survival (39.9% ± 6.2%) or overall survival (41.6% ± 6.1%) at 8 years when compared with previous studies using less intensive regimens. Our results suggest that alternative therapies are needed to improve cure rates for pediatric patients with relapsed leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3957178  PMID: 23887024
relapsed precursor-B; ALL; intensive chemotherapy; POG study 9411; SIMAL 9
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):242-252.
The genetic basis of hypodiploid acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a subtype of ALL characterized by aneuploidy and poor outcome, is unknown. Genomic profiling of 124 hypodiploid ALL cases, including whole genome and exome sequencing of 40 cases, identified two subtypes that differ in severity of aneuploidy, transcriptional profile and submicroscopic genetic alterations. Near haploid cases with 24–31 chromosomes harbor alterations targeting receptor tyrosine kinase- and Ras signaling (71%) and the lymphoid transcription factor IKZF3 (AIOLOS; 13%). In contrast, low hypodiploid ALL with 32–39 chromosomes are characterized by TP53 alterations (91.2%) which are commonly present in non-tumor cells, and alterations of IKZF2 (HELIOS; 53%) and RB1 (41%). Both near haploid and low hypodiploid tumors exhibit activation of Ras- and PI3K signaling pathways, and are sensitive to PI3K inhibitors, indicating that these drugs should be explored as a new therapeutic strategy for this aggressive form of leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3919793  PMID: 23334668
14.  Chemotherapy for Initial Induction Failures in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: a Children’s Oncology Group Study (POG 8764) 
Children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) who fail to enter remission have a poor prognosis. In a previous study, 9 of 14 children with induction failure entered remission after teniposide (VM26) plus cytosine arabinoside (Ara-C). We attempted to confirm these results. Twenty children received teniposide (200 mg/m2/day IV) for 3 days and cytosine arabinoside (100 mg/m2/day continuous IV infusion) for 7 days. There were 3 complete and 3 partial responses. Two additional patients achieved a complete response after a second, shorter course of the same agents. Although VM26 plus Ara-C is an active combination for treatment of ALL induction failure, it does not appear as effective as in the initial report. Better treatments for this problem are needed.
PMCID: PMC3587335  PMID: 23211688
15.  Plasma Methotrexate, Red Blood Cell Methotrexate and Red Blood Cell Folate Values and Outcome in Children with Precursor B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Report from the Children’s Oncology Group 
Plasma steady state methotrexate (MTX) level and red blood cell (RBC) MTX and folate concentrations were evaluated in 1124 children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) enrolled on the Pediatric Oncology Group studies 9005 (lower risk; Regimens A and C) and 9006 (higher risk; Regimen A). These regimens included intermediate dose MTX (1 gram/m2) given as a 24 hour infusion every other week for 12 doses during intensification. Plasma MTX level was evaluated at the end of MTX infusions. RBC MTX and folate concentrations were measured at the end of intensification. The five year continuous complete remission (CCR) was 76 ± 1.4% versus 85 ± 3.0% for those patients with steady state MTX levels ≤ and > 14 µM, respectively (p=0.0125). Hispanic children had significantly reduced median steady state MTX levels, 8.7 µM, compared to non-Hispanic children, 9.95 µM (p=0.0015), but this did not correlate with a difference in outcome. Neither RBC MTX, RBC folate, nor the RBC MTX:folate ratio identified children at increased risk of failure.
PMCID: PMC3771527  PMID: 21364468
Red Blood Cell Methotrexate and Folate; Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
16.  Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) with t(8;14)(q11.2;q32): B-cell disease with high proportion of Down Syndrome. A Children's Oncology Group (COG) Study 
Cancer genetics  2012;205(9):453-458.
The rare translocation t(8;14)(q11.2;q32) has been described in patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), particularly patients with Down Syndrome (DS).
We describe patients with t(8;14)(q11.2;q32) that were identified by the Children's Oncology Group (COG) ALL cytogenetics database, expanding our previous report of 10 patients with this translocation. Twenty-two such patients were treated with COG protocols. All patients had B-cell ALL and 7 (31.8%) had DS. None of the children with DS had an event, thus these patients had a superior estimated 5-year event-free survival (EFS) compared to non-DS patients (100% vs. 50.1 ± 17.7%; p=0.04). Only one patient (4.5%) had a concomitant Philadelphia chromosome t(9;22)(q34;q11.2). The cytogenetics data of two additional patients, who were not eligible for COG protocols, are also included in this report.
In conclusion, ALL patients with the recurring translocation t(8;14)(q11.2;q32) have B-cell phenotype and a high percentage have DS. Children with DS and t(8;14)(q11.2;q34) have improved event-free survival using standard COG therapy compared to non-DS patients. We did not find an increased number of patients with a concomitant Philadelphia chromosome in this population.
PMCID: PMC3432955  PMID: 22939398
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; B-cell; translocation; Down Syndrome
17.  Alternate-Week versus Continuous Dexamethasone Scheduling on the Risk of Osteonecrosis in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Results from the CCG-1961 Randomized Cohort Trial 
The lancet oncology  2012;13(9):906-915.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is curable in over 80% of children and adolescents with high-risk features. However, current therapies are associated with symptomatic osteonecrosis that disproportionately affects adolescents, often requires surgery, and is one of the most common causes of short- and long-term morbidity. A strategy is needed to lessen this risk.
CCG-1961, a multi-cohort randomized cooperative group trial, evaluated components of therapeutic intensification in 2056 eligible, newly diagnosed high-risk patients (white blood cell count ≥50×109/L and/or age ≥10 years). To address osteonecrosis, a novel alternate-week dexamethasone schedule (10 mg/m2/day on days 0-6 and 14-20) was compared to standard continuous dexamethasone (10 mg/m2/day on days 0-20) in randomized regimens with either double or single delayed intensification phases, respectively. Randomization was done based on a randomization schedule generated using permuted blocks within strata. Patients were prospectively monitored clinically for osteonecrosis, with confirmatory imaging of suspected sites. Primary analyses were performed on an intent-to-treat basis and focused on the estimation and comparison of cumulative incidence rates of osteonecrosis both overall and in patient subgroups (age, gender, marrow early response status); final results are herein reported. This study is registered with, number NCT00002812.
Symptomatic osteonecrosis was diagnosed in 143 patients at 377 confirmed skeletal sites, resulting in 139 surgeries. The overall cumulative incidence of osteonecrosis was 7·7% (N=2056) at 5 years, correlating with age at ALL diagnosis (1-9 years 1·0% (N=769), 10-15 years 9·9% (N=1025), ≥16 years 20·0% (N=262), p<0·0001) and gender (≥10 years, female 15·7% (N=525) versus male 9·3% (N=762), p=0·0010). For patients ≥10 years old with a rapid response to induction therapy, the use of alternate-week dexamethasone during delayed intensification phases significantly reduced osteonecrosis incidence compared with continuous dexamethasone (8·7±2·1% (N=420) versus 17·0±2·9% (N=403), p=0·0005), especially those ≥16 years (11·3±5·3% (N=84) versus 37·5±11·1% (N=79), p=0·0003; females 17·2±8·1% (N=32) versus 43·9±14·1% (N=23), p=0·050; males 7·7±5·9% (N=53) versus 34·6±11·6% (N=56), p=0·0014).
Alternate-week dexamethasone during delayed intensification phases effectively reduces osteonecrosis risk in children and adolescents receiving intensified therapy for high-risk ALL.
PMCID: PMC3448283  PMID: 22901620
18.  Genetic alterations activating kinase and cytokine receptor signaling in high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Cancer cell  2012;22(2):153-166.
Genomic profiling has identified a subtype of high-risk B-progenitor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) with alteration of IKZF1, a gene expression profile similar to BCR-ABL1-positive ALL and poor outcome (Ph-like ALL). The genetic alterations that activate kinase signaling in Ph-like ALL are poorly understood. We performed transcriptome and whole genome sequencing on 15 cases of Ph-like ALL, and identified rearrangements involving ABL1, JAK2, PDGFRB, CRLF2 and EPOR, activating mutations of IL7R and FLT3, and deletion of SH2B3, which encodes the JAK2 negative regulator LNK. Importantly, several of these alterations induce transformation that is attenuated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, suggesting the treatment outcome of these patients may be improved with targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC3422513  PMID: 22897847
19.  Pilot Study of Nelarabine in Combination With Intensive Chemotherapy in High-Risk T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(22):2753-2759.
Children's Oncology Group study AALL00P2 was designed to assess the feasibility and safety of adding nelarabine to a BFM 86–based chemotherapy regimen in children with newly diagnosed T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL).
Patients and Methods
In stage one of the study, eight patients with a slow early response (SER) by prednisone poor response (PPR; ≥ 1,000 peripheral blood blasts on day 8 of prednisone prephase) received chemotherapy plus six courses of nelarabine 400 mg/m2 once per day; four patients with SER by high minimal residual disease (MRD; ≥ 1% at day 36 of induction) received chemotherapy plus five courses of nelarabine; 16 patients with a rapid early response (RER) received chemotherapy without nelarabine. In stage two, all patients received six 5-day courses of nelarabine at 650 mg/m2 once per day (10 SER patients [one by MRD, nine by PPR]) or 400 mg/m2 once per day (38 RER patients; 12 SER patients [three by MRD, nine by PPR]).
The only significant difference in toxicities was decreased neutropenic infections in patients treated with nelarabine (42% with v 81% without nelarabine). Five-year event-free survival (EFS) rates were 73% for 11 stage one SER patients and 67% for 22 stage two SER patients treated with nelarabine versus 69% for 16 stage one RER patients treated without nelarabine and 74% for 38 stage two RER patients treated with nelarabine. Five-year EFS for all patients receiving nelarabine (n = 70) was 73% versus 69% for those treated without nelarabine (n = 16).
Addition of nelarabine to a BFM 86–based chemotherapy regimen was well tolerated and produced encouraging results in pediatric patients with T-ALL, particularly those with a SER, who have historically fared poorly.
PMCID: PMC3402886  PMID: 22734022
20.  Phase II Trial of Trastuzumab in Combination With Cytotoxic Chemotherapy for Treatment of Metastatic Osteosarcoma With Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 Overexpression: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(20):2545-2551.
Despite efforts to intensify chemotherapy, survival for patients with metastatic osteosarcoma remains poor. Overexpression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in osteosarcoma has been shown to predict poor therapeutic response and decreased survival. This study tests the safety and feasibility of delivering biologically targeted therapy by combining trastuzumab with standard chemotherapy in patients with metastatic osteosarcoma and HER2 overexpression.
Patients and Methods
Among 96 evaluable patients with newly diagnosed metastatic osteosarcoma, 41 had tumors that were HER2-positive by immunohistochemistry. All patients received chemotherapy with cisplatin, doxorubicin, methotrexate, ifosfamide, and etoposide. Dexrazoxane was administered with doxorubicin to minimize the risk of cardiotoxicity from treatment with trastuzumab and anthracycline. Only patients with HER2 overexpression received concurrent therapy with trastuzumab given for 34 consecutive weeks.
The 30-month event-free and overall survival rates for patients with HER2 overexpression treated with chemotherapy and trastuzumab were 32% and 59%, respectively. For patients without HER2 overexpression, treated with chemotherapy alone, the 30-month event-free and overall survival rates were 32% and 50%, respectively. There was no clinically significant short-term cardiotoxicity in patients treated with trastuzumab and doxorubicin.
Despite intensive chemotherapy plus trastuzumab for patients with HER2-positive disease, the outcome for all patients was poor, with no significant difference between the HER2-positive and HER2-negative groups. Although our findings suggest that trastuzumab can be safely delivered in combination with anthracycline-based chemotherapy and dexrazoxane, its therapeutic benefit remains uncertain. Definitive assessment of trastuzumab's potential role in treating osteosarcoma would require a randomized study of patients with HER2-positive disease.
PMCID: PMC3397787  PMID: 22665540
21.  Improved Survival for Children and Adolescents With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Between 1990 and 2005: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(14):1663-1669.
To examine population-based improvements in survival and the impact of clinical covariates on outcome among children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) enrolled onto Children's Oncology Group (COG) clinical trials between 1990 and 2005.
Patients and Methods
In total, 21,626 persons age 0 to 22 years were enrolled onto COG ALL clinical trials from 1990 to 2005, representing 55.8% of ALL cases estimated to occur among US persons younger than age 20 years during this period. This period was divided into three eras (1990-1994, 1995-1999, and 2000-2005) that included similar patient numbers to examine changes in 5- and 10-year survival over time and the relationship of those changes in survival to clinical covariates, with additional analyses of cause of death.
Five-year survival rates increased from 83.7% in 1990-1994 to 90.4% in 2000-2005 (P < .001). Survival improved significantly in all subgroups (except for infants age ≤ 1 year), including males and females; those age 1 to 9 years, 10+ years, or 15+ years; in whites, blacks, and other races; in Hispanics, non-Hispanics, and patients of unknown ethnicity; in those with B-cell or T-cell immunophenotype; and in those with National Cancer Institute (NCI) standard- or high-risk clinical features. Survival rates for infants changed little, but death following relapse/disease progression decreased and death related to toxicity increased.
This study documents ongoing survival improvements for children and adolescents with ALL. Thirty-six percent of deaths occurred among children with NCI standard-risk features emphasizing that efforts to further improve survival must be directed at both high-risk subsets and at those children predicted to have an excellent chance for cure.
PMCID: PMC3383113  PMID: 22412151
22.  Germline genetic variation and treatment response on CCG-1891 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;58(5):695-700.
Recent studies suggest that polymorphisms in genes encoding enzymes involved in drug detoxification and metabolism may influence disease outcome in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We sought to extend current knowledge by using standard and novel statistical methodology to examine polymorphic variants of genes and relapse risk, toxicity, and drug dose delivery in standard risk ALL.
We genotyped and abstracted chemotherapy drug dose data from treatment roadmaps on 557 patients on the Children’s Cancer Group ALL study, CCG-1891. Fourteen common polymorphisms in genes involved in folate metabolism and/or phase I and II drug detoxification were evaluated individually and clique-finding methodology was employed for detection of significant gene-gene interactions.
After controlling for known risk factors, polymorphisms in four genes: GSTP1*B (HR=1.94, p=0.047), MTHFR (HR=1.61, p=0.034), MTRR (HR=1.95, p=0.01), and TS (3R/4R, HR=3.69, p=0.007), were found to significantly increase relapse risk. One gene-gene pair, MTRR A/G and GSTM1 null genotype, significantly increased the risk of relapse after correction for multiple comparisons (p=0.012). Multiple polymorphisms were associated with various toxicities and there was no significant difference in dose of chemotherapy delivered by genotypes.
These data suggest that various polymorphisms play a role in relapse risk and toxicity during childhood ALL therapy and that genotype does not play a role in adjustment of drug dose administered. Additionally, gene-gene interactions may increase the risk of relapse in childhood ALL and the clique method may have utility in further exploring these interactions. childhood ALL therapy.
PMCID: PMC3165089  PMID: 21618417
genotype; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; prognosis; toxicity; gene-gene interactions
23.  ARID5B Genetic Polymorphisms Contribute to Racial Disparities in the Incidence and Treatment Outcome of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(7):751-757.
Recent genome-wide screens have identified genetic variations in ARID5B associated with susceptibility to childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We sought to determine the contribution of ARID5B single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to racial disparities in ALL susceptibility and treatment outcome.
Patients and Methods
We compared the association between ARID5B SNP genotype and ALL susceptibility in whites (> 95% European genetic ancestry; 978 cases and 1,046 controls) versus in Hispanics (> 10% Native American ancestry; 330 cases and 541 controls). We determined the relationships between ARID5B SNP genotype and ALL relapse risk in 1,605 children treated on the Children's Oncology Group (COG) P9904/9905 clinical trials.
Among 49 ARID5B SNPs interrogated, 10 were significantly associated with ALL susceptibility in both whites and Hispanics (P < .05), with risk alleles consistently more frequent in Hispanics than in whites. rs10821936 exhibited the most significant association in both races (P = 8.4 × 10−20 in whites; P = 1 × 10−6 in Hispanics), and genotype at this SNP was highly correlated with local Native American genetic ancestry (P = 1.8 × 10−8). Multivariate analyses in Hispanics identified an additional SNP associated with ALL susceptibility independent of rs10821936. Eight ARID5B SNPs were associated with both ALL susceptibility and relapse hazard; the alleles related to higher ALL incidence were always linked to poorer treatment outcome and were more frequent in Hispanics.
ARID5B polymorphisms are important determinants of childhood ALL susceptibility and treatment outcome, and they contribute to racial disparities in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3295551  PMID: 22291082
24.  Non-metastatic unresected paediatric non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas: Results of a pooled analysis from United States and European groups 
Non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS) with initially unresected tumours represent a particular subset of patients with a poor outcome. Various international research groups pooled their data in a joint study in order to investigate prognostic variables and treatment modalities.
The study population consisted of 304 patients <21 years old treated between 1980 and 2005 using a multimodality therapeutic strategy.
Synovial sarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST) were the most frequent histotypes. Most patients received initial chemotherapy: major responses were recorded in 41% and minor in 16% of cases. Overall survival (OS) was 60.0% and 51.5% at 5 and 10 years, respectively, and it was significantly associated with patient's age, histological subtype, tumour site and size, quality of delayed surgical resection, radiotherapy administration and response to induction chemotherapy. MPNST associated to neurofibromatosis type 1 was the tumour type with the worst rate of response to chemotherapy and the worst outcome.
In unresected NRSTS patients, radiotherapy and delayed surgery are of crucial importance. Patients who respond to chemotherapy have better chance of survival. However, given the relatively poor prognosis, research on intensive multimodal treatment approaches and novel strategies is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3539303  PMID: 21145727
Non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas; Unresected sarcoma; Paediatric sarcoma; Synovial sarcoma, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour; Chemotherapy, response to chemotherapy; Radiotherapy; Surgery; Prognostic factors
25.  Outcomes after Induction Failure in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(15):1371-1381.
Failure of remission-induction therapy is a rare but highly adverse event in children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
We identified induction failure, defined by the persistence of leukemic blasts in blood, bone marrow, or any extramedullary site after 4 to 6 weeks of remission-induction therapy, in 1041 of 44,017 patients (2.4%) 0 to 18 years of age with newly diagnosed ALL who were treated by a total of 14 cooperative study groups between 1985 and 2000. We analyzed the relationships among disease characteristics, treatments administered, and outcomes in these patients.
Patients with induction failure frequently presented with high-risk features, including older age, high leukocyte count, leukemia with a T-cell phenotype, the Philadelphia chromosome, and 11q23 rearrangement. With a median follow-up period of 8.3 years (range, 1.5 to 22.1), the 10-year survival rate (±SE) was estimated at only 32±1%. An age of 10 years or older, T-cell leukemia, the presence of an 11q23 rearrangement, and 25% or more blasts in the bone marrow at the end of induction therapy were associated with a particularly poor outcome. High hyperdiploidy (a modal chromosome number >50) and an age of 1 to 5 years were associated with a favorable outcome in patients with precursor B-cell leukemia. Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation from matched, related donors was associated with improved outcomes in T-cell leukemia. Children younger than 6 years of age with precursor B-cell leukemia and no adverse genetic features had a 10-year survival rate of 72±5% when treated with chemotherapy only.
Pediatric ALL with induction failure is highly heterogeneous. Patients who have T-cell leukemia appear to have a better outcome with allogeneic stem-cell transplantation than with chemotherapy, whereas patients who have precursor B-cell leukemia without other adverse features appear to have a better outcome with chemotherapy. (Funded by Deutsche Krebshilfe and others.)
PMCID: PMC3374496  PMID: 22494120

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