Clinical Trial
Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Eradication of minimal residual disease in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia after alemtuzumab therapy is associated with prolonged survival.

PURPOSE: To test whether eradication of minimal residual disease (MRD) in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) by alemtuzumab is associated with a prolongation of treatment-free and overall survival.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Ninety-one previously treated patients with CLL (74 men and 17 women; median age, 58 years [range, 32 to 75 years]; 44 were refractory to purine analogs) received a median of 9 weeks of alemtuzumab treatment between 1996 and 2003. Regular bone marrow assessments by MRD flow cytometry were performed with the aim of eradicating detectable MRD (< 1 CLL cell in 10(5) normal cells).

RESULTS: Responses according to National Cancer Institute-sponsored working group response criteria were complete remission (CR) in 32 patients (36%), partial remission (PR) in 17 patients (19%), and no response (NR) in 42 patients (46%). Twenty-two (50%) of 44 purine analog-refractory patients responded to alemtuzumab. Detectable CLL was eradicated from the blood and marrow in 18 patients (20%). Median survival was significantly longer in MRD-negative patients compared with those achieving an MRD-positive CR, PR, or NR. Patients achieving an MRD-negative CR had a longer treatment-free survival than patients with MRD-positive CRs, PR, or NR: MRD-negative CRs, not reached; MRD-positive CRs, 20 months; PRs, 13 months; NR, 6 months (P < .0001). Overall survival for the 18 patients with MRD-negative remissions was 84% at 60 months. Eight (47%) of the MRD-negative patients converted to MRD positivity at a median of 28 months.

CONCLUSION: MRD-negative remission in CLL is achievable with alemtuzumab, leading to an improved overall and treatment-free survival.

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