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McCormick Place during ASCO 2018
©ASCO/Rodney White 2018

CHICAGO—Acalabrutinib monotherapy was highly effective in Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM) in a phase 2 study, investigator Roger Owen, MD, reported at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting.

The BTK inhibitor was effective in both treatment-naïve and relapsed/refractory patients, with overall response rates for both groups in excess of 90%, and “amazing” major response rates—partial response or better—of approximately 80%, Dr Owen said.

Dr Owen, of the St James’s Institute of Oncology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in Leeds, UK, reported the findings as abstract 7501.*

Durations of response were excellent, according to Dr Owen, who also reported 2-year progression-free survival of 90% in treatment-naïve patients and 82% in relapsed/refractory patients.

The safety profile was favorable, with most adverse events of low grade, and a very limited number of dropouts due to adverse events, according to the investigator.

“I think this study clearly demonstrates the highly effective nature of acalabrutinib in Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia,” Dr Owen stated.

 Acalabrutinib is a selective BTK inhibitor with minimal off-target activity, he said. The BTK inhibitor ibrutinib also has demonstrated activity in Waldenström’s, but has been associated with toxicities such as atrial fibrillation and bleeding, he noted.

In this phase 2 acalabrutinib study (NCT02180724), which included 14 treatment-naïve and 92 relapsed/refractory patients, atrial fibrillation occurred in 5 patients. However, 4 of those cases were grade 1-2, and only one was grade 3, according to Dr Owen.

Investigators observed grade 3 hypertension in 3 relapsed/refractory patients.

Bleeding events occurred in more than half of patients, though only 3 of those events were grade 3, and no patient discontinued treatment due to a bleeding episode.

These efficacy results are “impressive,” and the fact that very few cardiac events were seen is important, said Bruce D. Cheson, MD, of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Dr Cheson commented on the acalabrutinib results in his presentation during ASCO on non-chemotherapy treatments for lymphoid malignancies.

 One can construct a non-chemo algorithm now for Waldenström’s, for patients who are MYD88 mutated, which is more than 90% of patients,” he said. “Right now ibrutinib, and perhaps in the future acalabrutinib, can be the initial therapy with or without rituximab based on the results of ongoing trials.”

However, single non-chemotherapy agents will not be sufficient to achieve cure of lymphoid malignancies, Dr Cheson added.

“We need to carefully develop rational combinations, identifying biomarkers for response, for resistance, for toxicity,” he said.

The study was sponsored by Acerta Pharma BV. 

*Data presented at the meeting differ from the abstract.


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