Beat AML: Precision Medicine Superior to SOC

Sharon Worcester

November 12, 2020

Precision medicine therapy proved feasible and superior to standard-of-care (SOC) chemotherapy in patients with acute myeloid leukemia in the Beat AML Master Clinical Trial.

The 30-day mortality rates were 3.7% versus 20.4% in 224 patients who enrolled in the Beat AML trial precision medicine substudies within 7 days of prospective genomic profiling and 103 who elected SOC chemotherapy, respectively, Amy Burd, PhD, vice president of research strategy for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Rye Brook, N.Y. and her colleagues reported online in Nature Medicine.

Overall survival (OS) at a median of 7.1 months was also significantly longer with precision medicine than with SOC chemotherapy (median, 12.8 vs. 3.9 months), the investigators found.

In an additional 28 patients who selected an investigational therapy rather than a precision medicine strategy or SOC chemotherapy, median OS was not reached, and in 38 who chose palliative care, median OS was 0.6 months, they noted. Care type was unknown in two patients.

The results were similar after controlling for demographic, clinical, and molecular variables and did not change when patients with adverse events of special interest were excluded from the analysis or when only those with survival greater than 2 weeks were included in the analysis.

AML confers an adverse outcome in older adults and therefore is typically treated rapidly after diagnosis. This has precluded consideration of patients' mutational profile for treatment decisions.

Beat AML, however, sought to prospectively assess the feasibility of quickly ascertaining cytogenetic and mutational data for the purpose of improving outcomes through targeted treatment.

"The study shows that delaying treatment up to 7 days is feasible and safe, and that patients who opted for the precision medicine approach experienced a lower early death rate and superior overall survival, compared with patients who opted for standard of care," lead study author John C. Byrd, MD, the D. Warren Brown Chair of Leukemia Research of the Ohio State University, Columbus, noted in a press statement from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which conducted the trial. "This patient-centric study shows that we can move away from chemotherapy treatment for patients who won't respond or can't withstand the harsh effects of the same chemotherapies we've been using for 40 years and match them with a treatment better suited for their individual cases."

The ongoing Beat AML trial was launched by LLS in 2016 to assess various novel targeted therapies in newly diagnosed AML patients aged 60 years and older. Participants underwent next-generation genomic sequencing, were matched to the appropriate targeted therapy, and were given the option of enrolling on the relevant substudy or selecting an alternate treatment strategy. There are currently 11 substudies assessing novel therapies that have emerged in the wake of "significant progress in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of AML."

The current findings represent outcomes in patients enrolled between Nov. 2016 and Jan. 2018. The patients had a mean age of 72 years, and those selecting precision medicine vs. SOC had similar demographic and genetic features, the authors noted.

LLS president and chief executive officer Louis J. DeGennaro, PhD, said the findings are practice changing and provide a template for studying precision medicine in other cancers.

"The study is changing significantly the way we look at treating patients with AML, showing that precision medicine ... can improve short- and long-term outcomes for patients with this deadly blood cancer," he said in the LLS statement. "Further, BEAT AML has proven to be a viable model for other cancer clinical trials to emulate."

In fact, the model has been applied to the recently launched Beat COVID trial, which looks at acalabrutinib in patients with hematologic cancers and COVID-19 infection, and other trials, including the LLS PedAL global precision medicine trial for children with relapsed acute leukemia, are planned.

"This study sets the path to establish the safety of precision medicine in AML and sets the stage to extend this same approach to younger patients with this disease and other cancers that are urgently treated as a single disease despite recognition of multiple subtypes, the authors concluded.

Burd is an employee of LLS, which received funding from AbbVie, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, and a variety of other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Byrd has received research support from Acerta Pharma, Genentech, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Pharmacyclics and has served on the advisory board of Syndax Pharmaceuticals.

SOURCE: Burd A et al. Nature Medicine 2020 Oct 26. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1089-8.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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