Emerging Therapeutics Optimize Hematologic Malignancy Treatment


Experts discussed novel options such as CAR T-cell therapy for optimizing treatment in MCL, myelofibrosis, and ALL.

This content originally appeared on our sister site, OncLive.

Optimized, tailored therapeutics that place a greater emphasis on patient-specific characteristics, such as risk and genomic status are becoming available for patients with hematologic malignancies.

A panel of experts from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center discussed these emerging options during an OncLive® Institutional Perspectives in Cancer webinar on leukemia and lymphoma.

During the meeting, faculty spotlighted updates and ongoing research efforts in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and myelofibrosis, as well as the current and potential future state of CAR T-cell therapy in leukemia and lymphoma.

Notably, the chair of the event, Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE, director of the CLL Program and a hematologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), highlighted the importance of collaboration between medical oncologists as the field continues to grow.

READ MORE: Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Shows Durable Response in Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Mato, was joined by fellow MSK faculty:

  • Lindsey Roeker, MD, a hematologic oncologist
  • Meghan Thompson, MD, a third-year fellow in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology
  • Anita Kumar, MD, the regional care network medical site director of MSK Basking Ridge
  • Raajit K. Rampal, MD, PhD, a hematologic oncologist
  • Jae Park, MD, a hematologic oncologist

During the meeting, the panelists provided key take-away messages from their presentations on CLL, MCL, myelofibrosis, and CAR T-cell therapy and shed light on some of the most promising research in their respective fields.

Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Kumar: Patients with relapsed/refractory MCL, particularly those with high-risk disease, tend to have poor survival outcomes. However, novel therapies, such as BTK inhibitors, venetoclax, and CAR T-cell therapy, have improved outcomes for this patient population.

To further advance this field, ongoing clinical trials are evaluating novel combinations with BTK inhibitors plus venetoclax, PI3K inhibitors, and CDK4/6 inhibitors. Combination strategies with venetoclax, lenalidomide [Revlimid], and rituximab [Rituxan] are also under investigation. To improve upon the efficacy observed with the FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy brexucabtagene autoleucel [Tecartus], CAR T-cell therapy is being evaluated in combination with novel agents, as well as earlier on in the disease course for patients with high-risk MCL. Finally, bispecific antibodies could offer another tool to treat patients with MCL.


Rampal: The major point I would say is that using genomics is now a standard of care and it is fundamental to the care of patients with myelofibrosis. We need to go beyond just looking for JAK1/2 mutations; we need to look at all the other mutations available. That gives us a sense of prognosis.

I would encourage physicians to think about repeating genomic testing during a patient’s course because we know that genomics can evolve, but we don’t always test for genomic evolution. The reason for that is that we may say at one point that a patient looks relatively low risk, but genetically, their disease may evolve and change the patient’s risk. Even though things might seem stable, clinically, in terms of blood counts, there may be a genomic evolution going on that could be an early warning that the disease itself is going to progress and transform.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Park: In relapsed/refractory B-cell acute ALL, the FDA-approved, CD19-directed CAR T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel [Kymriah] induced a CR rate of approximately 80%, even after patients received blinatumomab [Blincyto] and inotuzumab ozogamicin [Besponsa]. Several other phase 1/2 clinical trials are ongoing, evaluating CAR T-cell therapy for this patient population.

In relapsed/refractory T-cell ALL, CAR T-cell therapies directed toward CD7, CD5, CD4, and CD30 are under investigation.

Notably, patients with a low burden of disease appear to derive the most clinical benefit from CAR T-cell therapy, as well as have longer remissions with lower rates of toxicity. As such, CAR T-cell therapy should be considered early for these patients to optimize efficacy and safety.

Finally, novel CAR T-cell therapies, such as affinity-tuned CD19-directed CARs, dual antigen CD19-22 CARs, off-the-shelf products, and natural killer cell–based products are being evaluated to potentially reduce rates of relapse and improve tolerability. However, with the currently available products, prophylactic use of cytokine-directed therapies can be successful in reducing the rates and severity of cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity.

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