Treating leukaemia patients with chemotherapy and 2 repurposed drugs
Randomised phase II trial with safety run-in phase evaluating low-dose azacitidine, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and pioglitazone versus standard dose azacitidine in patients ≥60 years of age with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) who are refractory to standard induction chemotherapy (AML-ViVA).
- Blood cancer
Why this trial?
Acute myeloid leukaemias (AML) are a group of heterogeneous disorders. Outcome is influenced by various factors, including patient features (e.g. age, other illnesses present) and disease characteristics. While responses can be achieved in 70-80% of younger adult patients with a 5-year survival rate of 40-45%, only about 40-60% of older patients achieve remission. The vast majority will relapse, with about 10% surviving more than 5 years.
For patients with AML that don’t respond to chemotherapy, the only option is stem cell transplantation. If no donor is available, or if the procedure is not feasible due to advanced age or other medical reasons, patients with this chemo-refractory AML have a median survival of only 62 days.
This number clearly demonstrates the need for effective treatment options in patients with refractory disease who are not eligible for stem cell transplantation.
Why this drug?
The most striking improvement in AML therapy has been achieved with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which is a drug currently on the market for the treatment of acne. Several clinical trials have studied the role of ATRA in AML when given in combination with intensive chemotherapy. One study showed that the addition of ATRA to induction chemotherapy in AML patients >60 years of age resulted in a survival benefit.
Pioglitazone is currently on the market for the treatment of diabetes. Studies have shown that the drug is able to regulate cell growth and death. For AML specifically, preclinical data have demonstrated that PPARγ ligands (the drug group of pioglitazone) suppressed growth of AML cells, and, combined with ATRA, induced the development of normal cells instead of AML cells.
Azacitidine impacts cell differentiation, gene expression, and DNA synthesis and metabolism, and causes (tumour) cell death. Since the early 1970s, azacitidine continues to be investigated for the treatment of various types of leukaemia.
Taken together, it is reasonable and attractive to combine low-dose azacitidine, ATRA and pioglitazone in older patients with refractory AML to evaluate whether this combinatorial improves survival.
The main trial is a randomised, phase II, open label, multi-centre trial in 76 adult patients with AML refractory to standard induction chemotherapy.
An initial safety run-in study will be performed administering the study drugs azacitidine, all-trans retinoic-acid (ATRA) and pioglitazone in 9-18 patients. After completion of this run-in phase, toxicity and response data will be analysed, and it will be decided at which doses the main trial study will be conducted. The trial is performed in 13 German centres.
- Dr. Simone Thomas, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany (Coordinating Investigator)
- Prof. A. Reichle, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany (Principal Investigator)
- University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany
- Deutsch-Österreichische Studiengruppe Akute Myeloische Leukämie (AMLSG)
More info on clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02942758
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