Clofarabine (CLO) is a nucleoside analog with efficacy in relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This randomized phase 3 study aimed to evaluate whether CLO added to induction and whether consolidation would improve outcome in adults with newly diagnosed ALL. Treatment of younger (18-40 years) patients consisted of a pediatric-inspired protocol, and for older patients (41-70 years), a semi-intensive protocol was used. Three hundred and forty patients were randomized. After a median follow-up of 70 months, 5-year event-free survival (EFS) was 50% and 53% for arm A and B (CLO arm). For patients ≤40 years, EFS was 58% vs 65% in arm A vs B, whereas in patients >40 years, EFS was 43% in both arms. Complete remission (CR) rate was 89% in both arms and similar in younger and older patients. Minimal residual disease (MRD) was assessed in 200 patients (60%). Fifty-four of 76 evaluable patients (71%) were MRD- after consolidation 1 in arm A vs 75/81 (93%) in arm B (P = .001). Seventy (42%) patients proceeded to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in both arms. Five-year overall survival (OS) was similar in both arms: 60% vs 61%. Among patients achieving CR, relapse rates were 28% and 24%, and nonrelapse mortality was 16% vs 17% after CR. CLO-treated patients experienced more serious adverse events, more infections, and more often went off protocol. This was most pronounced in older patients. We conclude that, despite a higher rate of MRD negativity, addition of CLO does not improve outcome in adults with ALL, which might be due to increased toxicity. This trial was registered at www.trialregister.nl as #NTR2004.
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