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Alisertib plus induction chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with high-risk, acute myeloid leukaemia: a single-arm, phase 2 trial

Background: Increased aurora A kinase (AAK) expression occurs in acute myeloid leukaemia; AAK inhibition is a promising therapeutic target in this disease. We therefore aimed to assess the activity of alisertib combined with 7 + 3 induction chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukaemia.

Methods: We did a single-arm, phase 2 trial of patients recruited from the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in the USA. Eligible patients had previously untreated acute myeloid leukaemia, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-2, and were at high risk of disease as defined by the presence of an adverse-risk karyotype, the presence of secondary acute myeloid leukaemia arising from previous myelodysplastic syndrome or myeloproliferative neoplasm, the presence of therapy-related acute myeloid leukaemia, or being 65 years or older. Enrolled patients received 7 + 3 induction chemotherapy of continuous infusion of cytarabine (100 mg/m2 per day on days 1-7) and intravenous bolus of idarubicin (12 mg/m2 per day on days 1-3). Oral alisertib (30 mg) was given twice per day on days 8-15. Patients could receive up to four consolidation cycles with cytarabine and alisertib, and alisertib maintenance for 12 months. The primary endpoint was a composite including the proportion of patients achieving complete remission and those with a complete remission with incomplete neutrophil or platelet count recovery. Analyses were per-protocol. This study is registered with Clinicaltrials.gov, number NCT02560025, and has completed enrolment.

Findings: Between Dec 31, 2015, and Aug 1, 2017, we enrolled a total of 39 eligible patients. 19 (49%) of 39 patients had secondary acute myeloid leukaemia and three (8%) had therapy-related acute myeloid leukaemia. At mid-induction, 33 (85%) of 39 patients showed marrow aplasia, six (15%) received re-induction. The median follow-up was 13·7 months (IQR 12·7-14·4). Composite remission was 64% (two-stage 95% CI 48-79), with 20 (51%) of 39 patients achieving complete remission and five (13%) achieving complete remission with incomplete neutrophil or platelet count recovery. The most common grade 3 or 4 adverse events included febrile neutropenia (16 [41%] of 39), neutropenia (12 [31%]), thrombocytopenia (13 [33%]), anaemia (11 [28%]), anorexia (nine [23%]), and oral mucositis (four [10%]). No treatment-related deaths were observed.

Interpretation: These results suggest that alisertib combined with induction chemotherapy is active and safe in previously untreated patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukaemia. This study met criteria to move forward to a future randomised trial.

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