Venclexta Significantly Reduces Cancer Progression in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

CancerConnect News: Venclexta (venetoclax) plus Rituxan (rituximab) significantly reduces the risk of cancer progression or death at two years, compared with Treanda (bendustamine) plus Rituxan in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that has recurred following prior therapies. These results were recently presented at the 59th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that starts in immune cells called B-cells. It is the most common adult leukemia with over 15,000 new cases per year in the United States and almost 5,000 deaths. CLL is not a rapidly growing cancer, but the cancerous cells accumulate in blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen, resulting in enlargement of these organs and decreased bone marrow and immune function. This disease interferes with the normal production of antibodies and immunoglobulins, so the body cannot properly fight infections.

Although CLL may respond to therapy, it is considered an incurable disease, as most patients will experience a return of their cancer. There are several different treatment options available for CLL, and researchers continue to evaluate the effectiveness of these different treatment strategies to determine optimal therapeutic approaches for each patient.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to directly compare two different treatment regimens  for patients with CLL that had recurred following prior therapies. This trial, referred to as the MURANO trial, included 389 patients who were divided into two groups. One group was treated with a standard regimen consisting of bendustamine plus rituxan, and the other group was treated with a newer regimen consisting of venetoclax plus rituxan.  Venetoclax is already approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of recurrent CLL with a 17 p deletion. However, its approval was based on results that measured anti-cancer responses, and the FDA has required follow-up data to include duration of responses and survival rates.

The most recent data reported were taken at a median follow-up time of nearly 24 months after initiation of treatment on the MURANO trial:

  • Survival rates without disease progression (progression-free survival) were nearly 85% among the group of patients treated with venetoclax/rituxan, compared with only 36% of those treated with bendustamine/rituxan.
  • Overall survival was improved by approximately 50% with venetoclax/rituxan compared to bendustamine/rituxan.
  • The venetoclax/rituxan combination was generally well tolerated.

The researchers concluded that treatment with venetoclax/rituxan demonstrates a “profound improvement” in progression-free survival compared to the standard bendustamine/rituxan among patients with CLL that has recurred following prior therapies. Longer follow-up of data from the MURANO trial will continue to help determine the true effectiveness of venetoclax/rituxan combination therapy for these patients.

Reference: Seymour J, Kipps T, Eichhorst B, et al. Venetoclax plus rituximab is superior to bendamustine plus rituximab in patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia – results from pre-planned interim analysis of the randomized phase 3 Murano study. 59th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. Late-breaking abstract #2. Available at: Accessed February 26, 2018.

Copyright © 2019 CancerConnect. All Rights Reserved.