Acute lymphoblastic leukemia ( ALL ) is a rare type of blood cancer which is mainly treated by intensive chemotherapy. If the disease is resistant to initial treatment or reoccurs ( relapse ) the chance to survive is unfortunately very poor. Often the leukemia cells then become resistant to chemotherapy.
The bispecific antibody Blinatumomab ( BITE ) was designed to connect with one side to a surface marker on the leukemia cells ( CD19 ) and with the other side to attract T-cells of the patient. These T-cells kill the leukemia cells.
The treatment was given to patients with relapsed / refractory B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia ( r/r ALL ) as a 4 week continuous infusion, followed by two weeks break and another four weeks of treatment.
The goal was to achieve a complete remission ( CR ), which means that no leukemia cells are detected my microscopy in the bone marrow or at other sites of the body.
189 patients with r/r ALL in an unfavourable setting were treated.
The CR rate was 43%. In patients with prior stem cell transplantation the CR rate was 45%.
The most frequent side effects were fever, headache and low white blood cell counts associated with fever.
Overall it was demonstrated that Blinatumomab as a single agent therapy was effective in r/r ALL including patients with resistance to prior treatment approaches. ( Xagena )
Source: European Hematology Association Congress, 2014