Researchers reported a number of important findings in leukemia treatment at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

CAR-T cell therapy approved for B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Tisagenlecleucel, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that has recurred more than once or is refractory (not responding to treatment).

CAR-T cell therapy is an immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own T cells to directly target cancer. Tisagenlecleucel reprograms the patient’s T cells with a transgene that encodes a CAR, while identifying and removing cancerous cells that express the B-lymphocyte antigen CD19, a protein found on the surface of B cells.

What Patients Need to Know

Certain steps are followed in CAR-T cell therapy, including drawing blood, separating out and genetically modifying the T cells, multiplying those cells in a laboratory, and infusing them back into the patient, where they attack cancer cells.

CAR-T cell therapy studied for treatment of multiple myeloma

In an ongoing phase l trial in China, 33 out of 35 (94 percent) of patients had clinical remission of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer related to lymphoma and leukemia, upon receiving chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy that targeted the B cell maturation protein (BCMA). The first signs of treatment efficacy appeared as early as 10 days after the initial injection of CAR-T cells, and most patients had only mild side effects.

What Patients Need to Know

Although this was a small, early-stage trial, the data presented held promise that CAR-T cell therapy can send multiple myeloma into remission, and that this type of immunotherapy may be helpful in treating many types of cancers.

Phase lll trial compared bosutinib to imatinib in newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

In patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), the open-label, randomized phase III trial BFORE evaluated the targeted treatment bosutinib as a first-line treatment compared to the chemotherapy imatinib. The results showed that a 400-mg dose of bosutinib was associated with higher rates of major molecular response (MMR) and complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) than imatinib.

What Patients Need to Know

Dose interruptions and dose reductions were more frequent with bosutinib than with imatinib, and higher rates of gastrointestinal events and liver enzyme abnormalities were recorded in patients who received bosutinib.