Introduction: Hairy cell leukemia is a rare indolent B-cell malignancy, characterized by pancytopenia, recurrent infections, and splenomegaly. After initial therapy with purine nucleoside analogs, up to 50% of patients relapse after several years of remission. The number of relapsed patients is increasing and, until recently, there was no approved therapy with durable responses for hairy cell leukemia patients in the relapsed setting, thus the need for new non-chemotherapy approach with significant efficacy and less myelosuppression. Areas covered: Moxetumomab pasudotox is a recombinant immunotoxin containing a Fv fragment of an anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody and truncated Pseudomonas exotoxin (PE38). The authors reviewed pre-clinical and clinical studies that led to the FDA approval of the drug in patients with relapsed and/or refractory hairy cell leukemia, who received at least two prior therapies, including at least one purine nucleoside analog. Expert opinion: Moxetumomab pasudotox demonstrated a durable complete remission rate of 30% in heavily pretreated patients with hairy cell leukemia, and MRD eradication in 85% of responding patients. Moxetumomab pasudotox got a global FDA approval in September 2018. The US prescribing information carries boxed warnings regarding the risk of capillary leak syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome. Long-term follow-up of the pivotal study is ongoing (NCT01829711).
Keywords: Hairy cell leukemia; immunotoxin; moxetumomab pasudotox.