Nelarabine, intensive L-asparaginase, and protracted intrathecal therapy for newly diagnosed T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children and young adults (ALL-T11): a nationwide, multicenter, phase 2 trial including randomisation in the very high-risk group

Atsushi Sato, Yoshihiro Hatta, Chihaya Imai, Koichi Oshima, Yasuhiro Okamoto, Takao Deguchi, Yoshiko Hashii, Takashi Fukushima, Toshinori Hori, Nobutaka Kiyokawa, Motohiro Kato, Shoji Saito, Kenichi Anami, Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, Yoshiyuki Kosaka, Souichi Suenobu, Toshihiko Imamura, Akiko Kada, Akiko M. Saito, Atsushi ManabeHitoshi Kiyoi, Itaru Matsumura, Katsuyoshi Koh, Arata Watanabe, Yasushi Miyazaki, Keizo Horibe

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has distinct biological characteristics and a poorer prognosis than B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. This trial aimed to reduce the rate of radiation and haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) while improving outcomes by adding nelarabine, intensified L-asparaginase, and protracted intrathecal therapy in the Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster (BFM)-type treatment. Methods: In this nationwide, multicenter, phase 2 trial, we enrolled patients with newly diagnosed T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (age <25 years at diagnosis) conducted by Japan Children's Cancer Group and Japan Adult Leukemia Study Group. Patients were stratified into standard-risk, high-risk, and very-high-risk groups according to prednisolone response, CNS status, and end-of-consolidation minimal residual disease. We used the Associazione Italiana di Ematologia Oncologia Pediatrica (AIEOP)-BFM-ALL 2000-backbone chemotherapy. Nelarabine (650 mg/m2 per day for 5 days) was given to high-risk and very high-risk patients. All patients received, until the measurement of end-of-consolidation minimal residual disease, an identical therapy schedule, which included the prednisolone pre-phase remission induction therapy with dexamethasone (10 mg/m2 per day, for 3 weeks [for patients <10 years] or for 2 weeks including a 7-day off interval [for patients ≥10 years]) instead of prednisolone, and consolidation therapy added with Escherichia coli-derived L-asparaginase. On the basis of the stratification, patients received different intensities of treatment; L-asparaginase-intensified standard BFM-type therapy for standard risk and nelarabine-added high risk BFM-type therapy for high risk. In the very high-risk group, patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to group A (BFM-based block therapy) and group B (another block therapy, including high-dose dexamethasone) stratified by hospital, age (≥18 years or <18 years), and end-of-induction bone marrow blast percentage of M1 (<5%) or M2 (≥5%, <25%)+M3 (≥25%). Cranial radiotherapy was limited to patients with overt CNS disease at diagnosis (CNS3; >5 white blood cells per μL with blasts) and patients with no evidence of CNS disease received protracted triple intrathecal therapy. Only very high-risk patients were scheduled to receive HSCT. The primary endpoint was 3-year event-free survival for the entire cohort and the proportion of patients with disappearance of minimal residual disease between randomly assigned groups A and B in the very high-risk group. Secondary endpoints were overall survival, remission induction rate, and occurrence of adverse events. 3 years after the completion of patient accrual, a primary efficacy analysis was performed in the full analysis set and the per-protocol set. This study is registered with the Japan Registry of Clinical Trials, jRCTs041180145. Findings: Between Dec 1, 2011, and Nov 30, 2017, of 349 eligible patients (median age 9 years [IQR 6–13]), 238 (68%) were male, and 28 (8%) patients had CNS3 status. 168 (48%) patients were stratified as standard risk, 103 (30%) as high risk, 39 (11%) as very high risk, and 39 (11%) as no risk (patients who had off protocol treatment before risk assessment. The composite complete remission (complete remission plus complete remission in suppression) rate after remission induction therapy was 89% (298 of 335 patients). HSCT was performed in 35 (10%) of 333 patients. With a median follow-up of 5·2 years (IQR 3·6–6·7), 3-year event-free survival was 86·4% (95% CI 82·3–89·7%) and 3-year overall survival was 91·3% (87·7–93·8%). The proportion of minimal residual disease disappearance was 0·86 (12 of 14 patients; 95% CI 0·57–0·98) in group A and 0·50 (6 of 12 patients, 0·21–0·79) in group B. Grade 3 peripheral motor neuropathy was seen in 11 (3%) of 349 patients and sensory neuropathy was seen in 6 (2%) patients. The most common grade 3 or worse adverse event was febrile neutropenia (294 [84%] of 349 patients). Treatment-related death occurred in three patients due to sepsis, gastric perforation, or intracranial haemorrhage during remission induction. Interpretation: The ALL-T11 protocol produced encouraging outcomes with acceptable toxicities despite limited cranial radiotherapy and HSCT use. Funding: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, and Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. Translation: For the Japanese translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e419-e432
JournalThe Lancet Haematology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 06-2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology


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