Frontline combination of ponatinib and hyper-CVAD in Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia: 80-months follow-up results

Am J Hematol. 2023 Mar;98(3):493-501. doi: 10.1002/ajh.26816. Epub 2023 Jan 4.


The combination of ponatinib, a third-generation BCR::ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, with hyper-CVAD chemotherapy resulted in high rates of complete molecular remissions and survival, without the need for stem cell transplantation (SCT) in most patients with Philadelphia chromosome(Ph)-positive acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Confirming these results in a large cohort of patients with longer follow-up would establish this regimen as a new standard of care. Adults with newly diagnosed Ph-positive ALL were treated with the hyper-CVAD regimen. Ponatinib was added as 45 mg daily × 14 during induction, then 45 mg daily continuously (first 37 patients) or 30 mg daily continuously, with dose reduction to 15 mg daily upon achievement of a complete molecular response (CMR; absence of a detectable BCR::ABL1 transcript by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase-chain reaction at a sensitivity of 0.01%). Maintenance therapy consisted of daily ponatinib and vincristine-prednisone monthly for 2 years, followed by daily ponatinib indefinitely. Twelve intrathecal injections of cytarabine alternating with methotrexate were given as central nervous system prophylaxis. The trial is registered on with the identifier NCT01424982. Eighty-six patients were treated. Their median age was 46 years (range, 21-80). All 68 patients with active disease at the initiation of therapy achieved complete response (CR) The cumulative CMR rate was 86%. Twenty- patients (23%) underwent allogeneic SCT. With a median follow-up of 80 months (range, 16-129 months), the estimated 6-year event-free survival rate was 65% and the overall survival rate was 75%. There was no difference in outcome by performance of allogeneic SCT in first CR. Common grade 3-5 adverse events included infection (n = 80, 93%), increased liver transaminases (n = 26, 31%) and total bilirubin (n = 13, 15%), hypertension (n = 15, 17%), pancreatitis (n = 13, 15%), hemorrhage (n = 12, 13%), and skin rash (n = 9, 10%). Two ponatinib-related deaths from myocardial infarction (3%; at months 2.6 and 4.3, respectively; both in CR) in the first 37 patients treated led to the ponatinib dose-modifications mentioned earlier, with no further ponatinib-related deaths observed. The long-term results of ponatinib and hyper-CVAD continue to demonstrate excellent outcome results and acceptable safety data, indicating that this strategy is another standard of care approach in frontline Ph-positive ALL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Dexamethasone
  • Doxorubicin*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia Chromosome
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / drug therapy
  • Vincristine


  • Cyclophosphamide
  • ponatinib
  • Doxorubicin
  • Dexamethasone
  • Vincristine

Associated data