Data on long-term outcomes and biological drivers associated with depth of remission after BCL2 inhibition by venetoclax in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are limited. In this open-label parallel-group phase-3 study, 432 patients with previously untreated CLL were randomized (1:1) to receive either 1-year venetoclax-obinutuzumab (Ven-Obi, 216 patients) or chlorambucil-Obi (Clb-Obi, 216 patients) therapy (NCT02242942). The primary endpoint was investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS); secondary endpoints included minimal residual disease (MRD) and overall survival. RNA sequencing of CD19-enriched blood was conducted for exploratory post-hoc analyses. After a median follow-up of 65.4 months, PFS is significantly superior for Ven-Obi compared to Clb-Obi (Hazard ratio [HR] 0.35 [95% CI 0.26–0.46], p < 0.0001). At 5 years after randomization, the estimated PFS rate is 62.6% after Ven-Obi and 27.0% after Clb-Obi. In both arms, MRD status at the end of therapy is associated with longer PFS. MRD + ( ≥ 10−4) status is associated with increased expression of multi-drug resistance gene ABCB1 (MDR1), whereas MRD6 (< 10−6) is associated with BCL2L11 (BIM) expression. Inflammatory response pathways are enriched in MRD+ patient solely in the Ven-Obi arm. These data indicate sustained long-term efficacy of fixed-duration Ven-Obi in patients with previously untreated CLL. The distinct transcriptomic profile of MRD+ status suggests possible biological vulnerabilities.
Al-Sawaf, O., Zhang, C., ... Peifer, M., Eichhorst, B., Stilgenbauer, S., Jiang Y., Hallek M., Fischer, K. Transcriptomic profiles and 5-year results from the randomized CLL14 study of venetoclax plus obinutuzumab versus chlorambucil plus obinutuzumab in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Nat Commun 14, 2147 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-37648-w