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Venetoclax in patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Published:18th Jan 2017
Author: Roberts AW, Stilgenbauer S, Seymour JF, Huang DC.
Availability: Free full text
Ref.:Clin Cancer Res. 2017.pii: clincanres.0955.2016.

Venetoclax is the first BCL2 inhibitor to enter routine clinical practice. It is an orally bioavailable small molecule that binds BCL2 very specifically. Acting as a pharmacological mimic of the proteins that initiate apoptosis (a so-called BH3-mimetic), venetoclax rapidly induces apoptosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells which express high levels of BCL2 and rely on it to maintain their survival. As a single agent, daily venetoclax treatment induced durable responses in 79% of patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma in a Phase 1 study, including complete remissions in 20% of patients. Its use was approved by the FDA in April 2016 for patients with previously treated del(17p) CLL on the basis of a single arm Phase 2 trial demonstrating a 79% response rate and an estimated 1 year progression-free survival of 72% with 400mg/day continuous therapy. This review focuses on venetoclax, its mechanism-of-action, pharmacology and clinical trial data, and seeks to place it in the context of rapid advances in therapy for patients with relapsed CLL, especially those with del(17p) CLL.


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