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1.  Efficacy of azacitidine compared with that of conventional care regimens in the treatment of higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes: a randomised, open-label, phase III study 
The lancet oncology  2009;10(3):223-232.
Summary
Background
Drug treatments for patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes provide no survival advantage. In this trial, we aimed to assess the effect of azacitidine on overall survival compared with the three commonest conventional care regimens.
Methods
In a phase III, international, multicentre, controlled, parallel-group, open-label trial, patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes were randomly assigned one-to-one to receive azacitidine (75 mg/m² per day for 7 days every 28 days) or conventional care (best supportive care, low-dose cytarabine, or intensive chemotherapy as selected by investigators before randomisation). Patients were stratified by French–American–British and international prognostic scoring system classifications; randomisation was done with a block size of four. The primary endpoint was overall survival. Efficacy analyses were by intention to treat for all patients assigned to receive treatment. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00071799.
Findings
Between Feb 13, 2004, and Aug 7, 2006, 358 patients were randomly assigned to receive azacitidine (n=179) or conventional care regimens (n=179). Four patients in the azacitidine and 14 in the conventional care groups received no study drugs but were included in the intention-to-treat efficacy analysis. After a median follow-up of 21·1 months (IQR 15·1–26·9), median overall survival was 24·5 months (9·9–not reached) for the azacitidine group versus 15·0 months (5·6–24·1) for the conventional care group (hazard ratio 0·58; 95% CI 0·43–0·77; stratified log-rank p=0·0001). At last follow-up, 82 patients in the azacitidine group had died compared with 113 in the conventional care group. At 2 years, on the basis of Kaplan-Meier estimates, 50·8% (95% CI 42·1–58·8) of patients in the azacitidine group were alive compared with 26·2% (18·7–34·3) in the conventional care group (p<0·0001). Peripheral cytopenias were the most common grade 3–4 adverse events for all treatments.
Interpretation
Treatment with azacitidine increases overall survival in patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes relative to conventional care.
doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70003-8
PMCID: PMC4086808  PMID: 19230772
2.  Continued Azacitidine Therapy Beyond Time of First Response Improves Quality of Response in Patients With Higher-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes 
Cancer  2011;117(12):2697-2702.
BACKGROUND
In the AZA-001 trial, azacitidine (75 mg/m2/d subcutaneously for Days 1–7 of every 28-day cycle) demonstrated improved survival compared with conventional care regimens in patients with International Prognostic Scoring System-defined intermediate-2- or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome and World Health Organizationdefined acute myeloid leukemia with 20% to 30% bone marrow blasts.
METHODS
This secondary analysis of the AZA-001 phase 3 study evaluated the time to first response and the potential benefit of continued azacitidine treatment beyond first response in responders.
RESULTS
Overall, 91 of 179 patients achieved a response to azacitidine; responding patients received a median of 14 treatment cycles (range, 2–30). Median time to first response was 2 cycles (range, 1–16). Although 91% of first responses occurred by 6 cycles, continued azacitidine improved response category in 48% of patients. Best response was achieved by 92% of responders by 12 cycles. Median time from first response to best response was 3.5 cycles (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.0–6.0) in 30 patients who ultimately achieved a complete response, and 3.0 cycles (95% CI, 1.0–3.0) in 21 patients who achieved a partial response.
CONCLUSIONS
Continued azacitidine therapy in responders was associated with a quantitative increase in response to a higher response category in 48% of patients, and therefore may enhance clinical benefit in patients with higher-risk MDS.
doi:10.1002/cncr.25774
PMCID: PMC4000012  PMID: 21656747
azacitidine; myelodysplastic syndrome; quality of response; higher-risk disease; treatment duration
3.  Management and supportive care measures for adverse events in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes treated with azacitidine* 
European journal of haematology  2010;85(2):130-138.
Objective
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) treatment can initially worsen patients’ clinical condition and they may discontinue therapy before achieving benefit. We present previously unpublished data from two large phase III trials describing common adverse events (AEs) associated with azacitidine and methods to manage them.
Methods
In the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 9221 study, patients with any French-American-British (FAB) subtype of MDS were randomized to azacitidine or best supportive care (BSC). After 56 d, patients randomized to BSC with disease progression could cross over to receive azacitidine. In the AZA-001 study, patients with higher-risk MDS (FAB-defined refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB), RAEB in transformation, or chronic myelomonocitic leukaemia and IPSS int-2 or high) were randomized to azacitidine or to conventional care regimens (CCR), which included low-dose ara-C, BSC, or intensive chemotherapy. In both studies, azacitidine dose was 75 mg/m2/d SC for 7 d every 28 d. AEs were graded per National Cancer Institute’s Common Toxicity Criteria version 2.0 (AZA-001) or CALGB Expanded CTC (CALGB 9221).
Results
In safety-evaluable patients in AZA-001 (N = 175) or CALGB 9221 (N = 150), the most common AEs with azacitidine included hematologic (eg, cytopenias) and non-hematologic administration-related events (eg, injection-site reactions and gastrointestinal disorders). Most AEs were transient and resolved during ongoing therapy (> 83%). Hematologic AEs, most frequently observed during early treatment cycles, decreased during subsequent cycles and were usually managed with dosing delays (23–29%). Gastrointestinal symptoms were primarily managed with anti-emetics and laxatives.
Conclusion
Hematologic and non-hematologic AEs with azacitidine decreased in frequency as treatment continued. Awareness of the onset, duration and management of AEs can facilitate treatment, permitting patients to continue therapy for maximum benefit.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-0609.2010.01456.x
PMCID: PMC4000014  PMID: 20394651
azacitidine; safety; disease management; myelodysplastic syndromes; adverse drug event
4.  Effects of azacitidine compared with conventional care regimens in elderly (≥75 years) patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes☆ 
This analysis compared azacitidine (AZA) to conventional care regimens (CCR) and their associated overall survival (OS) and tolerability in the subset of 87 elderly (≥75 years) patients with higher-risk MDS (FAB: RAEB, RAEB-t, CMML and IPSS: Int-2 or High) from the AZA-001 trial. Patients were randomized to AZA (75 mg/m2/day subcutaneously×7 days every 28 days) (n = 38) or CCR (n = 49) and had median ages of 78 and 77 years, respectively. AZA significantly improved OS vs CCR (HR: 0.48 [95%CI: 0.26, 0.89]; p = 0.0193) and 2-year OS rates were 55% vs 15% (p < 0.001), respectively. AZA was generally well tolerated compared with CCR, which was primarily best supportive care (67%). Grade 3–4 anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia with AZA vs CCR were 13% vs 4%, 61% vs 17%, and 50% vs 30%, respectively. Given this efficacy and tolerability, AZA should be considered the treatment of choice in patients aged ≥75 years with good performance status and higher-risk MDS.
doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2010.04.005
PMCID: PMC4000027  PMID: 20451404
Azacitidine; Low-dose ara-C; Elderly; Myelodysplastic syndromes; MDS; Acute myeloid leukemia; AML; Survival
6.  Time- and residue-specific differences in histone acetylation induced by VPA and SAHA in AML1/ETO-positive leukemia cells 
Epigenetics  2013;8(2):210-219.
We analyzed the activity of the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) suberoyl-anilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) on Kasumi-1 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells expressing AML1/ETO. We also compared the effects of SAHA to those of valproic acid (VPA), a short-chain fatty acid HDACi. SAHA and VPA induced histone H3 and H4 acetylation, myeloid differentiation and massive early apoptosis. The latter effects were not determined by either drug in AML cell lines, such as NB4 or THP-1, not expressing AML1/ETO. SAHA was more rapid and effective than VPA in increasing H3 and H4 acetylation in total Kasumi-1 cell lysates and more effective than VPA in inducing acetylation of H4K8, H4K12, H4K16 residues. At the promoter of IL3, a transcriptionally-silenced target of AML1/ETO, SAHA was also more rapid than VPA in inducing total H4, H4K5, H4K8 and H3K27 acetylation, while VPA was more effective than SAHA at later times in inducing acetylation of total H4, H4K12, H4K16, as well as total H3. Consistent with these differences, SAHA induced the expression of IL3 mRNA more rapidly than VPA, while the effect of VPA was delayed. These differences might be exploited to design clinical trials specifically directed to AML subtypes characterized by constitutive HDAC activation. Our results led to include SAHA, an FDA-approved drug, among the HDACi active in the AML1/ETO-expressing AML cells.
doi:10.4161/epi.23538
PMCID: PMC3592907  PMID: 23321683
Acute myeloid leukemia; histone deacetylase inhibitors; suberoyl-anilide hydroxamic acid; targeted therapy; valproic acid
7.  Outcome of therapy-related myeloid neoplasms treated with azacitidine 
Background
Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (t-MN), including myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (t-MDS and t-AML) are associated to clinical and biologic unfavorable prognostic features, including high levels of DNA methylation.
Methods
We retrospectively evaluated 50 t-MN patients (34 MDS and 16 AML) selected among all patients receiving azacitidine (AZA) at 10 Italian Hematology Centers. Patients had developed a t-MN at a median of 6.5 years (range 1.7- 29) after treatment of the primary tumor (hematological neoplasm, 27 patients; solid tumor, 23 patients).
Results
The overall response rate was 42% (complete remission: 10 patients, partial remission: 2 and hematological improvement: 8 patients) and was obtained after a median of 3 cycles (range 1–6). Median overall survival (OS) was 21 months (range 1–53.6+) from AZA start. OS was significantly better in patients with less than 20% blasts, in normal karyotype t-AML and when AZA was used as front-line treatment. This was confirmed by the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions
This study reports efficacy of AZA in the largest series of therapy-related MN patients treated with 5-AZA. Our data show that blasts and karyotype maintain their important prognostic role in t-MN also in the azacitidine era.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-5-44
PMCID: PMC3419605  PMID: 22853048
Therapy related myeloid neoplasms; Hypomethylating agents
8.  Quality of life and physicians' perception in myelodysplastic syndromes 
To detect factors associated with quality of life (QOL) of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and to compare the MDS patients’ self-assessed QOL with that perceived by their physicians. In an observational, non-interventional, prospective, multicentre study, QOL was evaluated in 148 patients with newly diagnosed low- and intermediate-risk IPSS MDS. QOL measures (QOL-E v.2, LASA and EQ-5D) and patient-related candidate determinants of QOL were assessed for up to 18 months. Patients' QOL scores were compared with those obtained by appointed hematologists’ assessment and with ECOG performance status (PS). Fatigue was not prevalent at diagnosis, though physical QOL and energy levels were low. Transfusion-dependent patients had worse QOL scores. In multivariate analysis, Hb levels and comorbidities were a major determinant of QOL. Physicians’ perception of patients’ well-being correlated with patients’ QOL. Physicians underestimated the impact of disturbances on patients’ QOL, mainly in the MDS-specific components. ECOG PS did not discriminate patients according to QOL status. In conclusion, the association of anemia with QOL is confirmed, while co-morbidities emerge as an independent predictor of QOL in MDS. Fatigue is not a major concern. ECOG PS is not a valuable surrogate of patient’s QOL, thus highlighting that physician’s judgment of patient’s well-being must not substitute patient-reported outcomes. Appropriate questionnaires should be used to assess MDS patients’ QOL in order to improve communication and therapeutic choice.
PMCID: PMC3384400  PMID: 22762033
Myelodysplastic syndromes; quality of life; comorbidities; anemia; transfusion-dependence; patient-reported outcomes
9.  Hepcidin Levels and Their Determinants in Different Types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23109.
Iron overload may represent an additional clinical problem in patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), with recent data suggesting prognostic implications. Beyond red blood cells transfusions, dysregulation of hepcidin, the key iron hormone, may play a role, but studies until now have been hampered by technical problems. Using a recently validated assay, we measured serum hepcidin in 113 patients with different MDS subtypes. Mean hepcidin levels were consistently heterogeneous across different MDS subtypes, with the lowest levels in refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS, 1.43 nM) and the highest in refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB, 11.3 nM) or in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML, 10.04 nM) (P = 0.003 by ANOVA). MDS subtypes remained significant predictors of hepcidin in multivariate analyses adjusted for ferritin and transfusion history. Consistently with current knowledge on hepcidin action/regulation, RARS patients had the highest levels of toxic non-transferrin-bound-iron, while RAEB and CMML patients had substantial elevation of C-Reactive Protein as compared to other MDS subtypes, and showed lost of homeostatic regulation by iron. Growth differentiation factor 15 did not appear as a primary hepcidin regulator in this series. If confirmed, these results may help to calibrate future treatments with chelating agents and/or hepcidin modulators in MDS patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023109
PMCID: PMC3158762  PMID: 21886780

Results 1-9 (9)