Targeted Oral Therapy Combo Safe, Effective for Both Never-Treated and Relapsed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

December 12, 2017
Jennifer Woyach

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Acalabrutinib is a second-generation Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, a newer class of drugs shown to improve the survival of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Researchers believe that combining BTK inhibitors with an engineered CD20 antibody drug, such as obinutuzumab, could help increase the rapidity and depth of treatment response by further sensitizing cancer cells to respond to treatment with acalabrutinib.

In this phase 1b/II trial, researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) evaluated the combination of acalabrutinib given in combination with obinutuzumab in 45 patients with either relapsed/refractory CLL or who had never been treated for the disease.

Overall, treatment with acalabrutinib plus obinutuzumab was well-tolerated and yielded high response rates that deepened over time. Overall response rate was 95 percent in patients who had received no prior treatment. Median follow-up was 17.8 months in this patient population. Overall survival among patients with relapsed or recurrent disease was 92 percent, reported at a median follow up of 21 months.

“Despite treatment advances for chronic lymphocytic leukemia in recent years, the urgent need for additional treatment options remains,” says study first author Jennifer Woyach, MD, a hematologist and associate professor with the OSUCCC – James. “The overall response rates observed in the acalabrutinib trials and presented at ASH highlight the potential impact that this investigational treatment could have on the management of CLL.”

Data was reported (Abstract #432) on Dec. 10, 2017, at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

This study was supported by Acerta, the OSUCCC—James and the NCI (R01 CA197870).


About the OSUCCC – James
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only a few centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. As the cancer program’s 308-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet ® designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. With 21 floors and more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. For more information, visit

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