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Evaluating Blinatumomab for the Treatment of Relapsed/Refractory ALL: Design, Development, and Place in Therapy

  • Sigmund, Audrey M1
  • Sahasrabudhe, Kieran D1
  • Bhatnagar, Bhavana1
  • 1 The Ohio State University and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH, 43210
Published Article
Blood and Lymphatic Cancer: Targets and Therapy
Publication Date
Nov 03, 2020
DOI: 10.2147/BLCTT.S223894
PMID: 33173373
PMCID: PMC7648528
PubMed Central
  • Review


Although adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) achieve high complete remission (CR) rates following treatment with intensive multi-agent chemotherapy regimens, up to two-thirds of these patients eventually relapse. Unfortunately, adults with relapsed or refractory (R/R) B-ALL have a poor prognosis, with variable responses to salvage chemotherapy regimens and allogeneic stem cell transplant. As such, the need to develop effective and well-tolerated treatments for this patient population has been of paramount importance over the past decade. In this regard, treatment options for R/R B-ALL patients have expanded considerably over a relatively short period of time, with the approvals of blinatumomab, inotuzumab ozogamicin and tisagenlecleucel occurring within only the past six years. Blinatumomab, a CD19 x CD3 bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE) was the first of these immune therapies to receive approval, and for many patients, is used as first-line salvage therapy. A number of large clinical trials have demonstrated improved progression-free survival and overall survival for R/R B-ALL patients receiving blinatumomab as compared to those receiving conventional salvage chemotherapy. In addition to being approved for both Philadelphia chromosome-negative and Philadelphia chromosome-positive R/R B-ALL, blinatumomab is also the only ALL therapy that carries approval for the treatment of measurable residual disease (MRD). Although blinatumomab has changed the therapeutic landscape for adults with R/R B-ALL, a number of important clinical considerations and questions remain, including the potential role of blinatumomab in the frontline setting, mechanisms of resistance, optimal goal MRD level, the role of transplant following MRD clearance, the optimal place for blinatumomab in the context of other recently approved immune-mediated therapies, and real world outcomes for patients treated outside the context of clinical trials. These issues are the focus of ongoing studies, which will hopefully inform future clinical practice regarding the utility of blinatumomab in the treatment of B-ALL patients.

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