Background: Randomized trials of venetoclax plus anti-CD20 antibodies as first-line treatment in fit patients (i.e., those with a low burden of coexisting conditions) with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) have been lacking.
Methods: In a phase 3, open-label trial, we randomly assigned, in a 1:1:1:1 ratio, fit patients with CLL who did not have TP53 aberrations to receive six cycles of chemoimmunotherapy (fludarabine-cyclophosphamide-rituximab or bendamustine-rituximab) or 12 cycles of venetoclax-rituximab, venetoclax-obinutuzumab, or venetoclax-obinutuzumab-ibrutinib. Ibrutinib was discontinued after two consecutive measurements of undetectable minimal residual disease or could be extended. The primary end points were undetectable minimal residual disease (sensitivity, <10-4 [i.e., <1 CLL cell in 10,000 leukocytes]) as assessed by flow cytometry in peripheral blood at month 15 and progression-free survival.
Results: A total of 926 patients were assigned to one of the four treatment regimens (229 to chemoimmunotherapy, 237 to venetoclax-rituximab, 229 to venetoclax-obinutuzumab, and 231 to venetoclax-obinutuzumab-ibrutinib). At month 15, the percentage of patients with undetectable minimal residual disease was significantly higher in the venetoclax-obinutuzumab group (86.5%; 97.5% confidence interval [CI], 80.6 to 91.1) and the venetoclax-obinutuzumab-ibrutinib group (92.2%; 97.5% CI, 87.3 to 95.7) than in the chemoimmunotherapy group (52.0%; 97.5% CI, 44.4 to 59.5; P<0.001 for both comparisons), but it was not significantly higher in the venetoclax-rituximab group (57.0%; 97.5% CI, 49.5 to 64.2; P = 0.32). Three-year progression-free survival was 90.5% in the venetoclax-obinutuzumab-ibrutinib group and 75.5% in the chemoimmunotherapy group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.32; 97.5% CI, 0.19 to 0.54; P<0.001). Progression-free survival at 3 years was also higher with venetoclax-obinutuzumab (87.7%; hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.42; 97.5% CI, 0.26 to 0.68; P<0.001), but not with venetoclax-rituximab (80.8%; hazard ratio, 0.79; 97.5% CI, 0.53 to 1.18; P = 0.18). Grade 3 and grade 4 infections were more common with chemoimmunotherapy (18.5%) and venetoclax-obinutuzumab-ibrutinib (21.2%) than with venetoclax-rituximab (10.5%) or venetoclax-obinutuzumab (13.2%).
Conclusions: Venetoclax-obinutuzumab with or without ibrutinib was superior to chemoimmunotherapy as first-line treatment in fit patients with CLL. (Funded by AbbVie and others; GAIA-CLL13 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02950051; EudraCT number, 2015-004936-36.).
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