Dasatinib and low-intensity chemotherapy in elderly patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL

Blood. 2016 Aug 11;128(6):774-82. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-02-700153. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


Prognosis of Philadelphia-positive (Ph(+)) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in the elderly has improved during the imatinib era. We investigated dasatinib, another potent tyrosine kinase inhibitor, in combination with low-intensity chemotherapy. Patients older than age 55 years were included in the European Working Group on Adult ALL (EWALL) study number 01 for Ph(+) ALL (EWALL-PH-01 international study) and were treated with dasatinib 140 mg/day (100 mg/day over 70 years) with intrathecal chemotherapy, vincristine, and dexamethasone during induction. Patients in complete remission continued consolidation with dasatinib, sequentially with cytarabine, asparaginase, and methotrexate for 6 months. Maintenance therapy was dasatinib and vincristine/dexamethasone reinductions for 18 months followed by dasatinib until relapse or death. Seventy-one patients with a median age of 69 years were enrolled; 77% had a high comorbidity score. Complete remission rate was 96% and 65% of patients achieved a 3-log reduction in BCR-ABL1 transcript levels during consolidation. Only 7 patients underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. At 5 years, overall survival was 36% and up to 45% taking into account deaths unrelated to disease or treatment as competitors. Thirty-six patients relapsed, 24 were tested for mutation by Sanger sequencing, and 75% were T315I-positive. BCR-ABL1(T315I) was tested by allele-specific oligonucleotide reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 43 patients and detection was associated with short-term relapses. Ten patients (23%) were positive before any therapy and 8 relapsed, all with this mutation. In conclusion, dasatinib combined with low-intensity chemotherapy was well-tolerated and gave long-term survival in 36% of elderly patients with Ph(+) ALL. Monitoring of BCR-ABL1(T315I) from diagnosis identified patients with at high risk of early relapse and may help to personalize therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dasatinib / adverse effects
  • Dasatinib / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Philadelphia Chromosome / drug effects
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BCR-ABL1 fusion protein, human
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl
  • Dasatinib