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662 Imetelstat, a Telomerase Inhibitor, Induces Morphologic and Molecular Remissions In Myelofibrosis and Reversal Of Bone Marrow Fibrosis

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 634. Myeloproliferative Syndromes: Clinical: Novel Therapeutic Strategies
Monday, December 9, 2013: 4:45 PM
New Orleans Theater C (Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)

Ayalew Tefferi, MD1, Kebede Begna, MD2, Rebecca R. Laborde, PhD2*, Mrinal M Patnaik, MBBS1*, Terra Lasho, PhD1*, Darci Zblewski, CNP1*, Christy Finke, BS2*, Lauren Schimek3*, Betsy R. LaPlant4*, Curtis A. Hanson, MD5, Monic J. Stuart, MD, MPH6 and Animesh Pardanani, MBBS, PhD1

1Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
2Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
3Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
4Division of Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
5Division of Hematopathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
6Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, CA

Background: JAK inhibitors, including ruxolitinib, are to date incapable of inducing complete (CR) or partial (PR) remissions, reversal of bone marrow (BM) fibrosis or molecular responses in myelofibrosis (MF). This is consistent with the fact that JAK2 mutations are neither specific nor pathogenetically essential for the disease. Other currently available drugs in MF are equally ineffective in terms of disease-modifying activity.

Methods: In an investigator-sponsored single-center study (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01731951), imetelstat, a lipid-conjugated oligonucleotide inhibitor of human telomerase, was administered to patients with high or intermediate-2 risk MF (JCO 2011). Adverse events were monitored by common terminology criteria (Version 4.03) and responses by the International Working Group criteria (Blood 2013). Eligibility criteria included platelets ≥50 x 10(9)/L. Study drug and funding were provided by Geron Corporation (Menlo Park, CA, USA).

Imetelstat was administered by a 2-hour intravenous infusion (9.4 mg/kg) every three weeks (cohort A) or weekly x 3 followed by every three weeks (cohort B). Mutations with prognostic (ASXL1 and SRSF2) or phenotypic (SF3B1 and U2AF1) relevance were screened by DNA sequencing. Quantitative PCR was used to measure JAK2V617F burden (assay sensitivity 0.01%). Laboratory correlative studies included analyses of granulocyte telomere length, mononuclear cell telomerase activity and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) isoforms.

Results: Thirty-three patients were accrued; the first 18 patients enrolled and followed for a minimum of 3 months or discontinued are presented in this abstract: 11 cohort A and 7 cohort B; 44% PMF, 33% post-PV MF and 22% post-ET MF. Median age was 68 years and baseline risk was high in 56% and intermediate-2 in 44%. Seven patients were transfusion-dependent. Median spleen size was 13 cm and 11 patients had constitutional symptoms. Karyotype was abnormal in 7 patients and 89% were JAK2-mutated. Fifteen (83%) patients were previously treated including 7 with a JAK inhibitor and 3 with pomalidomide.

i)                    Toxicity

At a median f/u of 3.2 months, 16 (89%) patients remain on treatment; the two discontinuations were from unrelated death and disease progression.  In cohort A, there were no grade-4 treatment-related adverse events; grade-3 events were limited to thrombocytopenia in 27% and anemia in 9%. In cohort B, two (29%) patients experienced grade-4 thrombocytopenia; grade-3 events were limited to thrombocytopenia, neutropenia and anemia in one patient each. Dose reduction was necessary in only two (11%) patients because of grade 3 or 4 myelosuppression.

ii)                  Efficacy

Overall response rate was 44%. This included five (28%) patients who met the BM and peripheral blood morphologic criteria for CR (n=4) or PR (n=1) and 3 patients with clinical improvement, pending validation of response duration and resolution of drug-induced grade-1 thrombocytopenia. The four (22%) CR patients experienced reversal of BM fibrosis and recovery of normal megakaryocyte morphology. Two CR patients were transfusion-dependent at baseline and became transfusion-independent. Complete molecular responses were documented in 2 CR patients: one had U2AF1Q157P and 10% JAK2V617F and the other SF3B1K666E and 50% JAK2V617F. A third CR patient had a >50% reduction in U2AF1 469_insAGTATG mutation. Among 13 patients with leukocytosis, 10 (77%) normalized their count or had >50% reduction. Eleven (61%) patients had complete or partial resolution of leukoerythroblastosis.

iii)                Laboratory correlative studies

Three (50%) of 6 spliceosome-mutated vs. 1 (8%) of 12 unmutated (p=0.045) achieved CR. Spliceosome-mutated patients were also more likely to experience grade-3/4 myelosuppression (67% vs. 25% ; p=0.09). Treatment was associated with suppression of telomerase activity, shortening of telomere length and alteration of hTERT isoform pattern.

Conclusions: The current study signifies the potential value of telomerase-based treatment strategies in MF and identifies imetelstat as an active drug in that regard. The observed morphologic and molecular remissions confirm selective anti-clonal activity, which has thus far eluded other drugs in MF, including JAK inhibitors. The association between response and spliceosome mutations suggests a broader application for the drug in myeloid malignancies.

Disclosures: Stuart: Geron: Consultancy .

*signifies non-member of ASH