Venetoclax in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Introduction: Venetoclax, an antagonist of BCL-2 protein plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of relapsed/refractory CLL with del17p, and by the EMA for patients with del17p/TP53 mutation who have failed a BCR inhibitor, or in patients without those aberrations who have failed previous therapy, regardless of their genetic/molecular profile. Venetoclax in combination with rituximab has been also approved for the treatment of CLL after at least 1 prior therapy, regardless of del17p.
Areas covered: This article reviews the chemical structure, mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetic, and the clinical applications of venetoclax in monotherapy and in combined treatment of CLL. Publications dated 2010 through March 2019 were obtained from the MEDLINE database. The proceedings of the American Society of Hematology held during the last five years were also included.
Expert opinion: Venetoclax shows high efficacy, a favorable toxicity profile, and a high rate of minimal residual disease negativity, which is thought to have an impact on overall survival. It is efficient in patients with del17p/TP53 mutations, the incidence of which increases during clonal CLL evolution, and after the failure of BCR pathway inhibitors.