Acute myeloid leukemia patients who had upfront genomic testing had better treatment and outcomes

Nov. 4, 2020

Patients participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) precision medicine Beat AML Master Clinical Trial had superior treatment and survival outcomes compared to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients who opted for standard chemotherapy treatment, according to findings published today in the medical journal Nature Medicine and reported in a press release from The Ohio State University.

The Beat AML trial was launched in 2016 as a research collaboration between top leukemia researchers, biopharmaceutical companies and a leading genomics information company aimed at advancing treatment for AML, a deadly disease that affects more than 20,000 Americans annually but that has seen few treatment improvements in the past 40 years. 

In this new newly reported data, the Beat AML research team reports data demonstrating that genomic analysis of the leukemia cells to identify AML subtypes can be completed within seven days.

Researchers note this new data demonstrates a paradigm shift in how patients diagnosed with AML should be treated, proving that using genetic information to match patients to targeted therapies leads to better survival rates than the traditional one-size-fits-all treatment approach. 

For decades, the standard of care for AML patients has involved either an infusion of a combination of two chemotherapies — cytarabine and daunorubicin — or treatment with a so-called hypomethylating agent, a drug that unleashes signals allowing the cancer cells to die. These therapies, however, have shown limited effectiveness for long-term cancer control.

To date, the trial, which is ongoing, has screened more than 1,000 patients at 16 cancer centers. The data presented in today’s Nature Medicine publication represents patient enrollment during a slice of time between November 17, 2016 and January 30, 2018.

Of 487 patients with suspected AML who agreed to participate during that timeframe, 395 were found eligible for the trial. Screening and analysis was successfully completed within the seven-day timeline for 374 (94.7 percent) of those patients. Ultimately, 224 of those patients opted to participate on one of the 11 study arms that were active during that period. The patients who chose not to join the study either opted for standard of care, palliative care or an alternative clinical trial.

The median overall survival for patients in Beat AML was 12.8 months, compared with 3.9 months for patients opting for standard of care.

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