bims-tremyl Biomed News
on Therapy resistance biology in myeloid leukemia
Issue of 2021‒05‒30
thirty papers selected by
Paolo Gallipoli
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

  1. Blood Cancer J. 2021 May 27. 11(5): 104
      Approximately 30% of patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) harbor mutations in the fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene. While the adverse prognostic impact of FLT3-ITDmut in AML has been clearly proven, the prognostic significance of FLT3-TKDmut remains speculative. Current guidelines recommend rapid molecular testing for FLT3mut at diagnosis and earlier incorporation of targeted agents to achieve deeper remissions and early consideration for allogeneic stem cell transplant (ASCT). Mounting evidence suggests that FLT3mut can emerge at any timepoint in the disease spectrum emphasizing the need for repetitive mutational testing not only at diagnosis but also at each relapse. The approval of multi-kinase FLT3 inhibitor (FLT3i) midostaurin with induction therapy for newly diagnosed FLT3mut AML, and a more specific, potent FLT3i, gilteritinib as monotherapy for relapsed/refractory (R/R) FLT3mut AML have improved outcomes in patients with FLT3mut AML. Nevertheless, the short duration of remission with single-agent FLT3i's in R/R FLT3mut AML in the absence of ASCT, limited options in patients refractory to gilteritinib therapy, and diverse primary and secondary mechanisms of resistance to different FLT3i's remain ongoing challenges that compel the development and rapid implementation of multi-agent combinatorial or sequential therapies for FLT3mut AML.
  2. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 May;pii: e002509. [Epub ahead of print]9(5):
      BACKGROUND: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains one of the most challenging hematological malignancies. Despite progress in therapeutics, majority of patients succumb to this neoplasm. CD33 is a proven therapeutic target, given its expression on most AML cells. Almost all anti-CD33 antibodies target the membrane distal immunoglobulin V (IgV) domain of the CD33 extracellular domain.METHODS: In this manuscript, we present data on three bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) against the CD33 IgV and membrane proximal immunoglobulin C (IgC) domains. We use in vitro binding and cytotoxicity assays to show the effect of these BsAbs on AML cell lines. We also use immunodeficient mice-bearing leukemias from cell lines and patient-derived xenografts to show the effect of these BsAbs in vivo.
    RESULTS: In vitro, the IgV-targeting BsAb had higher binding to AML cell lines using flow cytometry and delivered more potent cytotoxicity in T-cell-dependent cytotoxicity assays; importantly, the IgC domain-targeting outperformed the IgV domain-targeting BsAb in medullary and extramedullary leukemia animal models.
    CONCLUSIONS: These data support further clinical development of this BsAb for first-in-human phase I clinical trial.
    Keywords:  antibodies; antigens; immunotherapy; neoplasm
  3. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 May;2(3): 266-287
      We discovered that the survival and growth of many primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples and cell lines, but not normal CD34+ cells, are dependent on SIRT5, a lysine deacylase implicated in regulating multiple metabolic pathways. Dependence on SIRT5 is genotype-agnostic and extends to RAS- and p53-mutated AML. Results were comparable between SIRT5 knockdown and SIRT5 inhibition using NRD167, a potent and selective SIRT5 inhibitor. Apoptosis induced by SIRT5 disruption is preceded by reductions in oxidative phosphorylation and glutamine utilization, and an increase in mitochondrial superoxide that is attenuated by ectopic superoxide dismutase 2. These data indicate that SIRT5 controls and coordinates several key metabolic pathways in AML and implicate SIRT5 as a vulnerability in AML.
  4. Curr Hematol Malig Rep. 2021 Apr;16(2): 207-217
      PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase genes (IDH1 and IDH2) are common in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), occurring in up to 30% of AML cases. Mutations in IDH leads to abnormal epigenetic regulation in AML cells and blocks differentiation. Inhibitors of mutated IDH1 and IDH2, ivosidenib and enasidenib, respectively, were recently approved by the FDA for relapsed/refractory AML; ivosidenib is also approved for newly diagnosed AML patients not fit for standard chemotherapy. Here, we discuss the clinical development of IDH inhibitors, their unique side effects, and outline future combination approaches in AML.RECENT FINDINGS: IDH inhibitors are well-tolerated but can induce differentiation of AML cells, which leads to the on-target side effect of differentiation syndrome in up to 20% of patients. Although IDH inhibitors demonstrate efficacy as monotherapy, recent trials have shown that they have higher response rates in combination with hypomethylating agents (HMAs). Current trials of IDH inhibitors include combination with standard induction chemotherapy, as maintenance therapy, and in combination with venetoclax-based regimens. IDH inhibitors are active and have a favorable toxicity profile in AML therapy. Current clinical trials are evaluating how to best incorporate IDH inhibitors into combination therapy to optimize outcomes and duration of response for AML patients with IDH mutations.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); Enasidenib; IDH inhibitors; IDH1; IDH2; Isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH); Ivosidenib
  5. Haematologica. 2021 May 27.
      Retinoic acid (RA) was proposed to increase survival of chemotherapy-treated Nucleophosmin-1 mutated Acute Myeloid Leukemia patients (NPM-1c AMLs). We reported that ex vivo, RA triggers NPM-1c degradation, P53 activation and growth arrest. PML organizes domains that control senescence or proteolysis. Here, we demonstrate that PML is required to initiate RA-driven NPM-1c degradation, P53 activation and cell death. Mechanistically, RA enhances PML basal expression through inhibition of activated Pin1, prior to NPM-1c degradation. Such PML induction drives P53 activation, favoring blasts response to chemotherapy or arsenic in vivo. This RA/PML/P53 cascade could mechanistically explain RA-facilitated chemotherapy response in NPM-1c AML patients.
  6. Cancer Cell. 2021 May 12. pii: S1535-6108(21)00225-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      N6-Methyladenosine (m6A) on mRNAs mediates different biological processes and its dysregulation contributes to tumorigenesis. How m6A dictates its diverse molecular and cellular effects in leukemias remains unknown. We found that YTHDC1 is the essential m6A reader in myeloid leukemia from a genome-wide CRISPR screen and that m6A is required for YTHDC1 to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation and form nuclear YTHDC1-m6A condensates (nYACs). The number of nYACs increases in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells compared with normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. AML cells require the nYACs to maintain cell survival and the undifferentiated state that is critical for leukemia maintenance. Furthermore, nYACs enable YTHDC1 to protect m6A-mRNAs from the PAXT complex and exosome-associated RNA degradation. Collectively, m6A is required for the formation of a nuclear body mediated by phase separation that maintains mRNA stability and control cancer cell survival and differentiation.
    Keywords:  RNA methylation; RNA-binding proteins; differentiation; myeloid leukemia; phase separation
  7. Expert Rev Hematol. 2021 May 27.
      Introduction: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) results from the neoplastic transformation of a hematopoietic stem cell which leads to impaired differentiation and the rapid proliferation of leukemic blasts. While therapeutic progress has stagnated for almost five decades, recent progress in genomic classification and biological drivers of AML have paved the way for multiple new drug approvals within the past few years. These long-awaited achievements represent a paradigm shift in the approach to a disease that has largely been managed with traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy since the early 1970s. With the evolution of targeted therapy in the AML treatment armamentarium, novel agents continue to be developed with the goal to improve efficacy in distinct patient populations while minimizing toxicity. To this end, monoclonal antibodies targeting AML-specific surface markers have emerged as promising candidates to improve treatment outcomes. CD123, interleukin-3 receptor alpha chain [IL-3Rα], is highly expressed in AML, particularly within the AML stem cell compartment. Several CD123-targeted strategies are currently being evaluated in clinical trials.Areas covered: The authors herein discuss the most recent clinical data on the anti-leukemic activity of CD123-directed therapy in AML. A computerized literature search of the PubMed database was conducted using key words relevant to the various sections of this article, including "CD123", "Acute Myeloid Leukemia", etc. Relevant abstracts presented at the American Society of Hematology, the European Hematology Association, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology were also reviewed.Expert Opinion: CD123 represents a suitable therapeutic target that has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes in AML.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; CD123; Monoclonal Antibodies; Targeted Therapy
  8. NAR Cancer. 2021 Jun;3(2): zcab018
      Mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 and -2 (IDH1/2) genes were first identified in glioma and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and subsequently found in multiple other tumor types. These neomorphic mutations convert the normal product of enzyme, α-ketoglutarate (αKG), to the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). Our group recently demonstrated that 2HG suppresses the high-fidelity homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair pathway, resulting in a state referred to as 'BRCAness', which confers exquisite sensitivity to poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. In this study, we sought to elucidate sensitivity of IDH1/2-mutant cells to DNA damage response (DDR) inhibitors and, whether combination therapies could enhance described synthetic lethal interactions. Here, we report that ATR (ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein kinase) inhibitors are active against IDH1/2-mutant cells, and that this activity is further potentiated in combination with PARP inhibitors. We demonstrate this interaction across multiple cell line models with engineered and endogenous IDH1/2 mutations, with robust anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we found ATR and PARP inhibitor treatment induces premature mitotic entry, which is significantly elevated in the setting of IDH1/2-mutations. These data highlight the potential efficacy of targeting HR defects in IDH1/2-mutant cancers and support the development of this combination in future clinical trials.
  9. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2021 May 24. 6(1): 186
      Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting FLT3 have shown activity but when used alone have achieved limited success in clinical trials, suggesting the need for combination with other drugs. We investigated the combination of FLT3 TKIs (Gilteritinib or Sorafenib), with Venetoclax, a BCL-2 selective inhibitor (BCL-2i), on FLT3/ITD leukemia cells. The combination of a FLT3 TKI and a BCL-2i synergistically reduced cell proliferation and enhanced apoptosis/cell death in FLT3/ITD cell lines and primary AML samples. Venetoclax also re-sensitized FLT3 TKI-resistant cells to Gilteritinib or Sorafenib treatment, mediated through MAPK pathway inhibition. Gilteritinib treatment alone dissociated BIM from MCL-1 but increased the binding of BIM to BCL-2. Venetoclax treatment enhanced the binding of BIM to MCL-1 but dissociated BIM from BCL-2. Treatment with the drugs together resulted in dissociation of BIM from both BCL-2 and MCL-1, with an increased binding of BIM to the cell death mediator BAX, leading to increased apoptosis. These findings suggest that Venetoclax mitigates the unintended pro-survival effects of FLT3 TKI mainly through the dissociation of BIM and BCL-2 and also decreased BIM expression. This study provides evidence that the addition of BCL-2i enhances the effect of FLT3 TKI therapy in FLT3/ITD AML treatment.
  10. Mol Cancer Ther. 2021 May 27. pii: molcanther.1125.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      DNA methyltransferase inhibitors have improved the prognosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, because these agents are easily degraded by cytidine deaminase (CDA), they must be administered intravenously or subcutaneously. Recently, two orally bioavailable DNA methyltransferase inhibitors, CC-486 and ASTX727, were approved. In previous work, we developed 5-O-trialkylsilylated decitabines that resist degradation by CDA. However, the effects of silylation of a deoxynucleotide analog and enzymatic cleavage of silylation have not been fully elucidated. Enteric administration of OR21 in a cynomolgus monkey model led to high plasma concentrations and hypomethylation, and in a mouse model, oral administration of enteric-coated OR21 led to high plasma concentrations. The drug became biologically active after release of decitabine (DAC) from OR21 following removal of the 5'-O-trisilylate substituent. Toxicities were tolerable and lower than those of DAC. Transcriptome and methylome analysis of MDS and AML cell lines revealed that OR21 increased expression of genes associated with tumor suppression, cell differentiation, and immune system processes by altering regional promoter methylation, indicating that these pathways play pivotal roles in the action of hypomethylating agents. OR21 induced cell differentiation via upregulation of the late cell differentiation drivers CEBPE and GATA-1. Thus, silylation of a deoxynucleotide analog can confer oral bioavailability without new toxicities. Both in vivo and in vitro, OR21 exerted anti-leukemia effects, and had a better safety profile than DAC. Together, our findings indicate that OR21 is a promising candidate drug for phase 1 study as an alternative to azacitidine or decitabine.
  11. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 May;2(3): 250-265
      Thalidomide analogs exert their therapeutic effects by binding to the CRL4CRBN E3 ubiquitin ligase, promoting ubiquitination and subsequent proteasomal degradation of specific protein substrates. Drug-induced degradation of IKZF1 and IKZF3 in B-cell malignancies demonstrates the clinical utility of targeting disease-relevant transcription factors for degradation. Here, we found that avadomide (CC-122) induces CRBN-dependent ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of ZMYM2 (ZNF198), a transcription factor involved in balanced chromosomal rearrangements with FGFR1 and FLT3 in aggressive forms of hematologic malignancies. The minimal drug-responsive element of ZMYM2 is a zinc-chelating MYM domain and is contained in the N-terminal portion of ZMYM2 that is universally included in the derived fusion proteins. We demonstrate that avadomide has the ability to induce proteasomal degradation of ZMYM2-FGFR1 and ZMYM2-FLT3 chimeric oncoproteins, both in vitro and in vivo. Our findings suggest that patients with hematologic malignancies harboring these ZMYM2 fusion proteins may benefit from avadomide treatment.
    Keywords:  fusion oncoproteins; hematologic malignancies; thalidomide analogs; ubiquitination; zinc finger protein
  12. J Clin Oncol. 2021 May 27. JCO2003736
      PURPOSE: Sixty percent of newly diagnosed patients with acute myeloid leukemia (ND-AML) receiving frontline therapy attain a complete response (CR), yet 30%-40% of patients relapse. Relapsed or refractory AML (R/R-AML) remains a particularly adverse population necessitating improved therapeutic options. This phase Ib/II study evaluated the safety and efficacy of fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin combined with the B-cell lymphoma-2 inhibitor venetoclax in ND-AML and R/R-AML.MATERIALS AND METHODS: The phase IB portion (PIB) enrolled patients with R/R-AML using a 3 + 3 dose escalation and de-escalation algorithm for identification of maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicities. The phase II portion enrolled patients into two arms to evaluate response and time-to-event end points: phase IIA (PIIA): ND-AML and phase IIB (PIIB): R/R-AML.
    RESULTS: Sixty-eight patients have enrolled to date (PIB, 16; PIIA, 29; PIIB, 23). Median age was 46 years (range, 20-73). Grade 3 and 4 adverse events occurring in ≥ 10% of patients included febrile neutropenia (50%), bacteremia (35%), pneumonia (28%), and sepsis (12%). The overall response rate for PIB, PIIA, and PIIB was 75%, 97%, and 70% with 75%, 90%, and 61%, respectively, achieving a composite CR. Measurable residual disease-negative composite CR was attained in 96% of ND-AML and 69% of R/R-AML patients. After a median follow-up of 12 months, median overall survival (OS) for both PII cohorts was not reached. Fifty-six percent of patients proceeded to allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (ND-AML, 69%; R/R-AML, 46%). In R/R-AML, allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation resulted in a significant improvement in OS (median OS, NR; 1-year OS, 87%). One-year survival post-HSCT was 94% in ND-AML and 78% in R/R-AML.
    CONCLUSION: Fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin + venetoclax represents an effective intensive treatment regimen in ND-AML and R/R-AML patients, associated with deep remissions and a high rate of transition to successful transplantation.
  13. NPJ Precis Oncol. 2021 May 26. 5(1): 44
      The epichaperome is a new cancer target composed of hyperconnected networks of chaperome members that facilitate cell survival. Cancers with an altered chaperone configuration may be susceptible to epichaperome inhibitors. We developed a flow cytometry-based assay for evaluation and monitoring of epichaperome abundance at the single cell level, with the goal of prospectively identifying patients likely to respond to epichaperome inhibitors, to measure target engagement, and dependency during treatment. As proof of principle, we describe a patient with an unclassified myeloproliferative neoplasm harboring a novel PML-SYK fusion, who progressed to acute myeloid leukemia despite chemotherapy and allogeneic stem cell transplant. The leukemia was identified as having high epichaperome abundance. We obtained compassionate access to an investigational epichaperome inhibitor, PU-H71. After 16 doses, the patient achieved durable complete remission. These encouraging results suggest that further investigation of epichaperome inhibitors in patients with abundant baseline epichaperome levels is warranted.
  14. Sci Transl Med. 2021 May 26. pii: eabc4834. [Epub ahead of print]13(595):
      Adult "T cell" acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematological malignancy that is associated with poor outcomes, requiring additional therapeutic options. The DNA methylation landscapes of adult T-ALL remain undercharacterized. Here, we systematically analyzed the DNA methylation profiles of normal thymic-sorted T cell subpopulations and 143 primary adult T-ALLs as part of the French GRAALL 2003-2005 trial. Our results indicated that T-ALL is epigenetically heterogeneous consisting of five subtypes (C1-C5), which were either associated with co-occurring DNA methyltransferase 3 alpha (DNMT3A)/isocitrate dehydrogenase [NADP(+)] 2 (IDH2) mutations (C1), TAL bHLH transcription factor 1, erythroid differentiation factor (TAL1) deregulation (C2), T cell leukemia homeobox 3 (TLX3) (C3), TLX1/in cis-homeobox A9 (HOXA9) (C4), or in trans-HOXA9 overexpression (C5). Integrative analysis of DNA methylation and gene expression identified potential cluster-specific oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. In addition to an aggressive hypomethylated subgroup (C1), our data identified an unexpected subset of hypermethylated T-ALL (C5) associated with poor outcome and primary therapeutic response. Using mouse xenografts, we demonstrated that hypermethylated T-ALL samples exhibited therapeutic responses to the DNA hypomethylating agent 5-azacytidine, which significantly (survival probability; P = 0.001 for C3, 0.01 for C4, and 0.0253 for C5) delayed tumor progression. These findings suggest that epigenetic-based therapies may provide an alternative treatment option in hypermethylated T-ALL.
  15. JCO Precis Oncol. 2021 ;pii: PO.20.00182. [Epub ahead of print]5
      PURPOSE: Physicians treating hematologic malignancies increasingly order targeted sequencing panels to interrogate recurrently mutated genes. The precise impact of these panels on clinical decision making is not well understood.METHODS: Here, we report our institutional experience with a targeted 40-gene panel (MyeloSeq) that is used to generate a report for both genetic variants and variant allele frequencies for the treating physician (the limit of mutation detection is approximately one AML cell in 50).
    RESULTS: In total, 346 sequencing reports were generated for 325 patients with suspected hematologic malignancies over an 8-month period (August 2018 to April 2019). To determine the influence of genomic data on clinical care for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we analyzed 122 consecutive reports from 109 patients diagnosed with AML and surveyed the treating physicians with a standardized questionnaire. The panel was ordered most commonly at diagnosis (61.5%), but was also used to assess response to therapy (22.9%) and to detect suspected relapse (15.6%). The panel was ordered at multiple timepoints during the disease course for 11% of patients. Physicians self-reported that 50 of 114 sequencing reports (44%) influenced clinical care decisions in 44 individual patients. Influences were often nuanced and extended beyond identifying actionable genetic variants with US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs.
    CONCLUSION: This study provides insights into how physicians are currently using multigene panels capable of detecting relatively rare AML cells. The most influential way to integrate these tools into clinical practice will be to perform prospective clinical trials that assess patient outcomes in response to genomically driven interventions.
  16. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 01. pii: e2020459118. [Epub ahead of print]118(22):
      Natural killer (NK) cells are major antileukemic immune effectors. Leukemic blasts have a negative impact on NK cell function and promote the emergence of phenotypically and functionally impaired NK cells. In the current work, we highlight an accumulation of CD56-CD16+ unconventional NK cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aberrant subset initially described as being elevated in patients chronically infected with HIV-1. Deep phenotyping of NK cells was performed using peripheral blood from patients with newly diagnosed AML (n = 48, HEMATOBIO cohort, NCT02320656) and healthy subjects (n = 18) by mass cytometry. We showed evidence of a moderate to drastic accumulation of CD56-CD16+ unconventional NK cells in 27% of patients. These NK cells displayed decreased expression of NKG2A as well as the triggering receptors NKp30 and NKp46, in line with previous observations in HIV-infected patients. High-dimensional characterization of these NK cells highlighted a decreased expression of three additional major triggering receptors required for NK cell activation, NKG2D, DNAM-1, and CD96. A high proportion of CD56-CD16+ NK cells at diagnosis was associated with an adverse clinical outcome and decreased overall survival (HR = 0.13; P = 0.0002) and event-free survival (HR = 0.33; P = 0.018) and retained statistical significance in multivariate analysis. Pseudotime analysis of the NK cell compartment highlighted a disruption of the maturation process, with a bifurcation from conventional NK cells toward CD56-CD16+ NK cells. Overall, our data suggest that the accumulation of CD56-CD16+ NK cells may be the consequence of immune escape from innate immunity during AML progression.
    Keywords:  AML; CD56−CD16+ NK cells; mass cytometry; natural killer cells
  17. Haematologica. 2021 May 27.
      The aim of this study was to characterize a large series of 154 patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL; median age, 53 years; range, 18-90 years) and evaluate real-life outcome after up-front treatment with arsenic trioxide (ATO) and alltrans retinoic acid (ATRA). All patients were included in the prospective NAPOLEON registry (NCT02192619) between 2013 and 2019. APL was de novo in 91% (n=140) and therapy-related in 9% (n=14); 13% (n=20) were older than 70 years. At diagnosis bleeding/hemorrhage was present in 38% and thrombosis in 3%. Complete remission was achieved in 152 patients (99%), whereas two patients (1%) experienced induction death within 18 days after start of therapy. With a median follow-up of 1.99 years (95%-CI, 1.61-2.30 years) 1-year and 2-years overall survival (OS) rates were 97% (95%-CI, 94-100%) and 95% (95%-CI, 91-99%), respectively. Age above 70 years was associated with a significantly shorter OS (P<0.001) as compared to younger patients. So far no relapses were observed. Six patients (4%) died in CR after in median 0.95 years after diagnosis (range, 0.18-2.38 years). Our data confirm the efficiency and durability of ATO/ATRA in the primary management of adult low-/ intermediate-risk APL patients in the real life setting, irrespective of age.
  18. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 May;2(3): 226-237
      Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) is characterized by detectable hematopoietic-associated gene mutations in a person without evidence of hematologic malignancy. We sought to identify additional cancer-presenting mutations useable for CHIP detection by performing a data mining analysis of 48 somatic mutation studies reporting mutations at diagnoses of 7,430 adult and pediatric patients with hematologic malignancies. Following extraction of 20,141 protein-altering mutations, we identified 434 significantly recurrent mutation hotspots, 364 of which occurred at loci confidently assessable for CHIP. We then performed an additional large-scale analysis of whole exome sequencing data from 4,538 persons belonging to three non-cancer cohorts for clonal mutations. We found the combined cohort prevalence of CHIP with mutations identical to those reported at blood cancer mutation hotspots to be 1.8%, and that some of these CHIP mutations occurred in children. Our findings may help to improve CHIP detection and pre-cancer surveillance for both children and adults.
    Keywords:  clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential; mutational hotspot; oncogenesis; pre-cancer surveillance; recurrent mutation
  19. Nat Commun. 2021 May 25. 12(1): 3084
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) intensive chemotherapy combined with broad-spectrum antibiotics, leads to gut microbiota dysbiosis promoting pathological conditions and an increased incidence of complications. Here we report findings from a phase II single-arm, multicenter study evaluating autologous fecal microbiota transfer (AFMT) in 25 AML patients treated with intensive chemotherapy and antibiotics ( number: NCT02928523). The co-primary outcomes of the study are to evaluate the efficacy of AFMT in dysbiosis correction and multidrug-resistant bacteria eradication. The main secondary outcomes are to define a dysbiosis biosignature, to evaluate the effect of dysbiosis correction on patient clinical status, to assess the short and mid-term safety of AFMT in this immunocompromised population, and to evaluate the feasibility of the AFMT procedure and acceptability by the patient. Intensive induction chemotherapy induces a dramatic decrease of α-diversity indices, and a microbial dysbiosis with a significant shift of the microbial communities and domination of pro-inflammatory families. After AFMT treatment, α-diversity indices return to their initial mean levels and the similarity index shows the restoration of microbial communities. The trial meets pre-specified endpoints. AFMT appears to be safe and may be effective for gut microbiota restoration in AML patients receiving intensive chemotherapy and antibiotics, with an excellent gut microbiota reconstruction based on both richness and diversity indices at the species level.
  20. Cell Death Discov. 2021 May 25. 7(1): 121
      Internal tandem duplication (ITD) of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) confers poor prognosis and is found in approximately 25% of cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although FLT3 inhibitors have shown clinical benefit in patients with AML harboring FLT3-ITD, the therapeutic effect is limited. Here, to explore alternative therapeutics, we established a cellular model of monoallelic FLT3ITD/WT cells using the CRISPR-Cas9 system in a human myeloid leukemia cell line, K562. cDNA microarray analysis revealed elevated CD52 expression in K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells compared to K562-FLT3WT/WT cells, an observation that was further confirmed by quantitative real-time-PCR and flow cytometric analyses. The elevated expression of CD52 in K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells was decreased in wild-type FLT3 (FLT3-WT) knock-in K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells. In K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells, a STAT5 inhibitor, pimozide, downregulated CD52 protein expression while an AKT inhibitor, afuresertib, did not affect CD52 expression. Notably, an anti-CD52 antibody, alemtuzumab, induced significant antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells compared to K562-FLT3WT/WT cells. Furthermore, alemtuzumab significantly suppressed the xenograft tumor growth of K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Taken together, our data suggested that genetically modified FLT3-ITD knock-in human myeloid leukemia K562 cells upregulated CD52 expression via activation of STAT5, and alemtuzumab showed an antitumor effect via induction of ADCC in K562-FLT3ITD/WT cells. Our findings may allow establishment of a new therapeutic option, alemtuzumab, to treat leukemia with the FLT3-ITD mutation.
  21. Blood. 2021 May 27. pii: blood.2021011103. [Epub ahead of print]
      To design a simple and reproducible classifier predicting the overall survival (OS) of AML patients ≥ 60 years old treated with 7+3, we sequenced 37 genes in 471 patients from the ALFA1200 study (NCT01966497, median age 68 years). Mutation patterns and OS differed between the 84 patients with poor-risk cytogenetics and the 387 patients with good (N=13), intermediate (N=339) or unavailable (N=35) cytogenetic risk. TP53 (HR=2.49; P=0.0003) and KRAS (HR=3.60; P=0.001) mutations independently worsened OS of patients with poor-risk cytogenetics. In those without poor-risk cytogenetics, NPM1 (HR=0.57; P=0.0004), FLT3-ITDs with low (HR=1.85; P=0.0005) or high (HR=3.51; P<10-4) allelic ratio, DNMT3A (HR=1.86; P<10-4), NRAS (HR=1.54; P=0.019) and ASXL1 (HR=1.89; P=0.0003) mutations independently predicted OS. Combining cytogenetic risk and mutations in these 7 genes, 39.1% of patients could be assigned to a 'go-go' tier with a 2-year OS of 66.1%, 7.6% to the 'no-go' group (2-year OS 2.8%) while the 53.3% 'slow-go' patients had a 2-year OS of 39.1% (P<10-5). Across three independent validation cohorts, 31.2-37.7% and 11.2-13.5% of patients were assigned to the 'go-go' and the 'no-go' tiers respectively, with significant differences in OS between tiers in all 3 cohorts (HDF, N=141, P=0.003, SAL N=466 and AMLSG N=223, both P<10-5). The ALFA decision tool is a simple, robust and discriminant prognostic model for AML patients older than 60 years treated with intensive chemotherapy. This model can instruct the design of trials comparing the 7+3 standard of care with less intensive regimens.
  22. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 May;2(3): 195-197
      In this issue of Blood Cancer Discovery, Brück et al applied unsupervised and supervised machine learning to bone marrow histopathology images from Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) patients. Their study provides new insights into the pathobiology of MDS and paves the way for increased use of artificial intelligence for the assessment and diagnosis of hematological malignancies.
  23. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 May 11. pii: S2451-9456(21)00211-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      The proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs) are a new technology to degrade target proteins. However, their clinical application is limited currently by lack of chemical binders to target proteins. For instance, it is still unknown whether splicing factor 3B subunit 1 (SF3B1) is targetable by PROTACs. We recently identified a 2-aminothiazole derivative (herein O4I2) as a promoter in the generation of human pluripotent stem cells. In this work, proteomic analysis on the biotinylated O4I2 revealed that O4I2 targeted SF3B1 and positively regulated RNA splicing. Fusing thalidomide-the ligand of the cereblon ubiquitin ligase-to O4I2 led to a new PROTAC-O4I2, which selectively degraded SF3B1 and induced cellular apoptosis in a CRBN-dependent manner. In a Drosophila intestinal tumor model, PROTAC-O4I2 increased survival by interference with the maintenance and proliferation of stem cell. Thus, our finding demonstrates that SF3B1 is PROTACable by utilizing noninhibitory chemicals, which expands the list of PROTAC target proteins.
    Keywords:  CRBN; PROTAC; SF3B1 inhibitor; chemically induced protein-protein interaction; molecular degrader; proteomics; proximity-based drug; splicing factor 3B1; targeted protein degradation; thalidomide
  24. Aging Cell. 2021 May 29. e13366
      Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) is a common precursor state for blood cancers that most frequently occurs due to mutations in the DNA-methylation modifying enzymes DNMT3A or TET2. We used DNA-methylation array and whole-genome sequencing data from four cohorts together comprising 5522 persons to study the association between CHIP, epigenetic clocks, and health outcomes. CHIP was strongly associated with epigenetic age acceleration, defined as the residual after regressing epigenetic clock age on chronological age, in several clocks, ranging from 1.31 years (GrimAge, p < 8.6 × 10-7 ) to 3.08 years (EEAA, p < 3.7 × 10-18 ). Mutations in most CHIP genes except DNA-damage response genes were associated with increases in several measures of age acceleration. CHIP carriers with mutations in multiple genes had the largest increases in age acceleration and decrease in estimated telomere length. Finally, we found that ~40% of CHIP carriers had acceleration >0 in both Hannum and GrimAge (referred to as AgeAccelHG+). This group was at high risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 2.90, p < 4.1 × 10-8 ) and coronary heart disease (CHD) (hazard ratio 3.24, p < 9.3 × 10-6 ) compared to those who were CHIP-/AgeAccelHG-. In contrast, the other ~60% of CHIP carriers who were AgeAccelHG- were not at increased risk of these outcomes. In summary, CHIP is strongly linked to age acceleration in multiple clocks, and the combination of CHIP and epigenetic aging may be used to identify a population at high risk for adverse outcomes and who may be a target for clinical interventions.
    Keywords:  clonal hematopoiesis; epigenomics; heart disease
  25. Leukemia. 2021 May 28.
      Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) represent a heterogeneous group of myeloid neoplasms that are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis, variable cytopenias, and a risk of progression to acute myeloid leukemia. Most patients with MDS are affected by anemia and anemia-related symptoms, which negatively impact their quality of life. While many patients with MDS have lower-risk disease and are managed by existing treatments, there currently is no clear standard of care for many patients. For patients with higher-risk disease, the treatment priority is changing the natural history of the disease by delaying disease progression to acute myeloid leukemia and improving overall survival. However, existing treatments for MDS are generally not curative and many patients experience relapse or resistance to first-line treatment. Thus, there remains an unmet need for new, more effective but tolerable strategies to manage MDS. Recent advances in molecular diagnostics have improved our understanding of the pathogenesis of MDS, and it is becoming clear that the diverse nature of genetic abnormalities that drive MDS demands a complex and personalized treatment approach. This review will discuss some of the challenges related to the current MDS treatment landscape, as well as new approaches currently in development.
  26. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 May;2(3): 201-215
      Emerging clonal complexity has brought into question the way in which we perceive and, in turn, treat disorders of the hematopoietic system. Former models of cell-intrinsic clonal dominance driven by acquisition of driver genes in a stereotypic sequence are often insufficient in explaining observations such as clonal hematopoiesis, and new paradigms are in order. Here, we review the evidence both within the hematologic malignancy field and also borrow from perspectives rooted in evolutionary biology to reframe pathogenesis of hematologic disorders as dynamic processes involving complex interplays of genetic and non-genetic subclones and the tissue microenvironment in which they reside.
  27. Leuk Lymphoma. 2021 May 24. 1-10
      Molecular abnormalities are frequent in core-binding factor (CBF) AMLs, but their prognostic relevance is controversial. Sixty-two patients were retrospectively analyzed and 47 harbored at least one gene mutation with a next-generation-sequencing assay. The most common molecular mutation was KIT mutation (30.6%), followed by NRAS (24.2%) and ASXL1 (14.5%) mutations, which was associated with a higher number of bone marrow blasts (p = .049) and older age (p = .027). The survival analysis showed KIT mutation adversely affected the overall survival (OS) (p = .046). NRAS mutation was associated with inferior OS (p = .016) and RFS (p = .039). Eight patients carried co-mutations of KIT and NRAS and had worse OS (p = .012) and RFS (p = .034). The multivariate analysis showed age ≥60 years and additional chromosomal abnormalities were significant adverse factors for OS. Thus, co-mutations of KIT and NRAS were significantly associated with a poor prognosis and should be taken into account when assessing for prognostic stratification in patients with CBF-AML.
    Keywords:  Core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia; KIT; NRAS; gene mutation; next-generation sequencing; prognosis
  28. J Clin Oncol. 2021 May 28. JCO2003048
      PURPOSE: We investigated the impact of the CD33-targeted agent gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) on survival in pediatric patients with KMT2A-rearranged (KMT2A-r) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) enrolled in the Children's Oncology Group trial AAML0531 (NCT01407757).METHODS: Patients with KMT2A-r AML were identified and clinical characteristics described. Five-year overall survival (OS), event-free survival (EFS), disease-free survival (DFS), and relapse risk (RR) were determined overall and for higher-risk versus not high-risk translocation partners. GO's impact on response was determined and outcomes based on consolidation approach (hematopoietic stem cell transplant [HSCT] v chemotherapy) described.
    RESULTS: Two hundred fifteen (21%) of 1,022 patients enrolled had KMT2A-r AML. Five-year EFS and OS from study entry were 38% and 58%, respectively. EFS was superior with GO treatment (EFS 48% with GO v 29% without, P = .003), although OS was comparable (63% v 53%, P = .054). For patients with KMT2A-r AML who achieved complete remission, GO was associated with lower RR (40% GO v 66% patients who did not receive GO [No-GO], P = .001) and improved 5-year DFS (GO 57% v No-GO 33%, P = .002). GO benefit was observed in both higher-risk and not high-risk KMT2A-r subsets. For patients who underwent HSCT, prior GO exposure was associated with decreased relapse (5-year RR: 28% GO and HSCT v 73% No-GO and HSCT, P = .006). In multivariable analysis, GO was independently associated with improved EFS, improved DFS, and reduced RR.
    CONCLUSION: GO added to conventional chemotherapy improved outcomes for KMT2A-r AML; consolidation with HSCT may further enhance outcomes. Future clinical trials should study CD33-targeted agents in combination with HSCT for pediatric KMT2A-r AML.