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Novel therapies and combinations in CLL refractory to BTK inhibitors and venetoclax.

Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) refractory to covalent BTK and BCL2 inhibitors have a new unmet clinical need. Standard treatment options are able to obtain only limited and short-lasting disease control associated with reduced overall survival, and thus these patients have become ideal candidates for enrollment in clinical trials. Favorable results have been obtained with the use of noncovalent BTK inhibitors (roughly 70% overall response rate regardless of the actual resistance or intolerance to previous covalent BTK inhibitors) and anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy (with complete responses in up to 45% of cases and an undetectable measurable residual disease rate of 65% in the bone marrow). These 2 approaches should be considered valid options in this setting, although not yet approved. For young fit patients achieving remissions with salvage treatments, the option of allogeneic stem cell transplantation should be discussed as the outcome appears to be unaffected by number and type of previous targeted agents. Novel treatment strategies interfering with different mechanisms of CLL cell survival and proliferation are warranted, including small molecules with novel targets (eg, CDK9, MCL1, ERK inhibitors), CAR T cells targeting different antigens, CAR natural killer cells, or bispecific antibodies.

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