Venetoclax (VEN) added to the hypomethylating agents (HMA) decitabine or azacitidine is the new standard of care for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is being evaluated in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Current dosing of HMA/VEN relies on leukemia suppression through cytotoxicity which also impacts normal hematopoiesis. A regimen using once-weekly low-dose decitabine (LDDec) has demonstrated activity in myeloid malignancies. To overcome the severe myelosuppression often seen with HMA/VEN, we evaluated a once-weekly dosing regimen of VEN and LDDec in elderly and/or frail patients who were felt less likely to tolerate severe myelosuppression.
This is a retrospective, single-center analysis of patients with AML, MDS, or chronic myelomonocytic leukemia treated with a once-weekly LDDec/VEN regimen. We also compare this regimen with a cohort treated with standard dosing HMA/VEN.
In a retrospective cohort of 39 patients, the overall response rate for patients receiving LDDec/VEN for first-line AML and MDS was 88% and 64%, respectively. In patients with TP53 mutations, the composite complete response rate was 71% and the median overall survival was 10.7 months. When compared with 36 patients receiving standard dose HMA/VEN, the LDDec/VEN patients had a longer time on therapy (175 vs. 78 days; P = 0.014) and a trend toward a higher rate of transfusion independence (47% vs. 26%; P = 0.33). Neutropenic fever occurred in 31% of patients, with a median of one hospitalization at any point during treatment.
This preliminary clinical experience, although retrospective, provides proof-of-activity of noncytotoxic DNA methyltransferase 1–targeting by allowing frequent, sustained drug exposure often not possible with standard HMA/VEN regimens.