Perspectives on interferon-alpha in the treatment of polycythemia vera and related myeloproliferative neoplasms: minimal residual disease and cure?
ABSTRACT: The first clinical trials of the safety and efficacy of interferon-alpha2 (IFN-alpha2) were performed about 30 years ago. Since then, several single-arm studies have convincingly demonstrated that IFN-alpha2 is a highly potent anti-cancer agent in several cancer types but unfortunately not being explored sufficiently due to a high toxicity profile when using non-pegylated IFN-alpha2 or high dosages or due to competitive drugs, that for clinicians at first glance might look more attractive. Within the hematological malignancies, IFN-alpha2 has only recently been revived in patients with the Philadelphia-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms-essential thrombocytosis, polycythemia vera, and myelofibrosis (MPNs)-and in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in combination with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In this review, we tell the IFN story in MPNs from the very beginning in the 1980s up to 2018 and describe the perspectives for IFN-alpha2 treatment of MPNs in the future. The mechanisms of actions are discussed and the impact of chronic inflammation as the driving force for clonal expansion and disease progression in MPNs is discussed in the context of combination therapies with potent anti-inflammatory agents, such as the JAK1-2 inhibitors (licensed only ruxolitinib) and statins as well. Interferon-alpha2 being the cornerstone treatment in MPNs and having the potential of inducing minimal residual disease (MRD) with normalization of the bone marrow and low-JAK2V617F allele burden, we believe that combination therapy with ruxolitinib may be even more efficacious and hopefully revert disease progression in many more patients to enter the path towards MRD. In patients with advanced and transforming disease towards leukemic transformation or having transformed to acute myeloid leukemia, "triple therapy" is proposed as a novel treatment modality to be tested in clinical trials combining IFN-alpha2, DNA-hypomethylator, and ruxolitinib. The rationale for this "triple therapy" is given, including the fact that even in AML, IFN-alpha2 as monotherapy may revert disease progression. We envisage a new and bright future with many more patients with MPNs obtaining MRD on the above therapies. From this stage-and even before-vaccination strategies may open a new horizon with cure being the goal for some patients.
Project description:An important pathogenetic distinction in the classification of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) is the presence or absence of the BCR-ABL fusion gene, which encodes a unique oncogenic tyrosine kinase. The BCR-ABL fusion, caused by the formation of the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph) through translocation, constitutes the disease-initiating event in chronic myeloid leukemia. The development of successive BCR-ABL-targeted tyrosine-kinase inhibitors has led to greatly improved outcomes in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, including high rates of complete hematologic, cytogenetic, and molecular responses. Such levels of treatment success have long been elusive for patients with Ph-negative MPNs, because of the difficulties in identifying specific driver proteins suitable as drug targets. However, in recent years an improved understanding of the complex pathobiology of classic Ph-negative MPNs, characterized by variable, overlapping multimutation profiles, has prompted the development of better and more broadly targeted (to pathway rather than protein) treatment options, particularly JAK inhibitors. In classic Ph-negative MPNs, overactivation of JAK-dependent signaling pathways is a central pathogenic mechanism, and mutually exclusive mutations in JAK2, MPL, and CALR linked to aberrant JAK activation are now recognized as key drivers of disease progression in myelofibrosis (MF). In clinical trials, the JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor ruxolitinib - the first therapy approved for MF worldwide - improved disease-related splenomegaly and symptoms independent of JAK2 (V617F) mutational status, and prolonged survival compared with placebo or standard therapy in patients with advanced MF. In separate trials, ruxolitinib also provided comprehensive hematologic control in patients with another Ph-negative MPN - polycythemia vera. However, complete cytogenetic or molecular responses with JAK inhibitors alone are normally not observed, underscoring the need for novel combination therapies of JAK inhibitors and complementary agents that better address the complexity of the pathobiology of classic Ph-negative MPNs. Here, we discuss the role of tyrosine-kinase inhibitors in the current MPN-treatment landscape.
Project description:The JAK-STAT signaling pathway plays a central role in signal transduction in hematopoietic cells, as well as in cells of the immune system. The occurrence in most patients affected by myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) of driver mutations resulting in the constitutive activation of JAK2-dependent signaling identified the deregulated JAK-STAT signal transduction pathway as the major pathogenic mechanism of MPNs. It also prompted the development of targeted drugs for MPNs. Ruxolitinib is a potent and selective oral inhibitor of both JAK2 and JAK1 protein kinases. Its use in patients with myelofibrosis is associated with a substantial reduction in spleen volume, attenuation of symptoms and decreased mortality. With growing clinical experience, concerns about infectious complications, and increased risk of B-cell lymphoma, presumably caused by the effects of JAK1/2 inhibition on immune response and immunosurveillance, have been raised. Evidence shows that ruxolitinib exerts potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. Cellular targets of ruxolitinib include various components of both the innate and adaptive immune system, such as natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T helper, and regulatory T cells. On the other hand, immunomodulatory properties have proven beneficial in some instances, as highlighted by the successful use of ruxolitinib in corticosteroid-resistant graft vs. host disease. The objective of this article is to provide an overview of published evidence addressing the key question of the mechanisms underlying ruxolitinib-induced immunosuppression.
Project description:Ruxolitinib is a selective JAK1/2 inhibitor that is widely used for the treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), including myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera (PV). Despite its clinical efficacy for MPNs, ruxolitinib possesses immunosuppressive properties that potentially increase the risks for opportunistic infection, such as mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection, and reactivation of occult viral infection. Herein, we report the case of a 76-year-old male with PV who developed tuberculosis peritonitis under ruxolitinib therapy for 28 weeks. While previous studies and case reports have suggested an increased risk of MTB infection of various organs during ruxolitinib treatment of MPNs, this case is apparently the first of tuberculosis peritonitis in a patient with MPN treated with ruxolitinib. A review of previous case reports suggests the need for careful observation for MTB from the relatively early phase of ruxolitinib treatment, given that the median duration from the start of ruxolitinib treatment to the emergence of MTB was 20 weeks (range: 3-88 weeks). Clinicians should consider tuberculosis peritonitis as a differential diagnosis when patients with MPN treated with ruxolitinib develop infectious abdominal symptoms.
Project description:Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are clonal hematopoietic stem-cell disorders, characterized phenotypically by the abnormal accumulation of mature-appearing myeloid cells. Polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, primary myelofibrosis (also known as 'BCR-ABL1-negative' MPNs), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) are the primary types of MPNs. After the discovery of the BCR-ABL1 fusion protein in CML, several oncogenic tyrosine kinases have been identified in 'BCR-ABL1-negative' MPNs, most importantly, JAK2V617F mutation. The similarity in the clinical characteristics of the BCR-ABL1-negative MPN patients along with the prevalence of the Janus kinase mutation in this patient population provided a strong rationale for the development of a new class of pharmacologic inhibitors that target this pathway. The first of its class, ruxolitinib, has now been approved by the food and drug administration (FDA) for the management of patients with intermediate- to high-risk myelofibrosis. Ruxolitinib provides significant and sustained improvements in spleen related and constitutional symptoms secondary to the disease. Although noncurative, ruxolitinib represents a milestone in the treatment of myelofibrosis patients. Other types of JAK2 inhibitors are being tested in various clinical trials at this point and may provide better efficacy data and safety profile than its predecessor. In this article, we comprehensively reviewed and summarized the available preclinical and clinical trials pertaining to JAK inhibitors.
Project description:Ruxolitinib is an FDA approved janus kinase (JAK)1/2 inhibitor used to treat myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), including myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera. We aimed to determine the metabolic consequences of ruxolitinib treatment in patients with MPNs. We performed a retrospective single-center cohort study utilizing an electronic medical record based database of patients who began treatment with ruxolitinib for MPNs from January 2010 to March 2017. We also examined the effects of ruxolitinib on adipose tissue JAK/STAT signaling in a mouse model. 127 patients were identified, of which 69 had data available for weight, and at least one other parameter of interest before, and 72 weeks after starting ruxolitinib. Mean baseline weight was 73.9?±?17.0?kg, and 78.54?±?19.1?kg at 72 weeks (p?<?0.001). 50% of patients gained >5% body weight. Baseline body mass index (BMI) was 25.8?±?4.8?kg/m2, and 27.5?±?5.5?kg/m2 at 72 weeks (p?<?0.001). Patients treated with ruxolitinib had a higher systolic blood pressure, serum AST, and ALT at 72 weeks, compared with baseline (p?=?0.03, p?=?0.01, p?=?0.04, respectively). In mice, ruxolitinib decreased basal and GH-stimulated STAT5 phosphorylation in adipose tissue. As pharmacological JAK1/2 inhibitors are being developed and used in clinical practice, it is important to understand their long-term metabolic consequences.
Project description:Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) often carry JAK2(V617F), MPL(W515L), or CALR(del52) mutations. Current treatment options for MPNs include cytoreduction by hydroxyurea and JAK1/2 inhibition by ruxolitinib, both of which are not curative. We show here that cell lines expressing JAK2(V617F), MPL(W515L), or CALR(del52) accumulated reactive oxygen species-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and were modestly sensitive to poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors olaparib and BMN673. At the same time, primary MPN cell samples from individual patients displayed a high degree of variability in sensitivity to these drugs. Ruxolitinib inhibited 2 major DSB repair mechanisms, BRCA-mediated homologous recombination and DNA-dependent protein kinase-mediated nonhomologous end-joining, and, when combined with olaparib, caused abundant accumulation of toxic DSBs resulting in enhanced elimination of MPN primary cells, including the disease-initiating cells from the majority of patients. Moreover, the combination of BMN673, ruxolitinib, and hydroxyurea was highly effective in vivo against JAK2(V617F)+ murine MPN-like disease and also against JAK2(V617F)+, CALR(del52)+, and MPL(W515L)+ primary MPN xenografts. In conclusion, we postulate that ruxolitinib-induced deficiencies in DSB repair pathways sensitized MPN cells to synthetic lethality triggered by PARP inhibitors.
Project description:The discovery of JAK2V617F and the demonstration that BCR-ABL-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are driven by abnormal JAK2 activation have led to advances in diagnostic algorithms, prognosis and ultimately also treatment strategies. The JAK 1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib was a pivotal moment in the treatment of MPNs, representing the first targeted treatment in this field. Despite a weak effect on the cause of the disease itself in MPNs, ruxolitinib improves the clinical state of patients and increases survival in myelofibrosis. In parallel, other JAK inhibitors with potential for pathologic and molecular remissions, less myelosuppression, and with greater selectivity for JAK1 or JAK2, and the ability to overcome JAK inhibitor persistence are in various stages of development. Moreover, many novel classes of targeted agents continue to be investigated in efforts to build on the progress made with ruxolitinib. This article will discuss some of the advances in the targeted therapy in this field in recent years and explore in greater detail some of the most advanced emerging agents as well as those with greatest potential.
Project description:Classical myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are hematopoietic stem cell disorders that exhibit excess mature myeloid cells, bone marrow fibrosis, and risk of leukemic transformation. Aberrant JAK2 signaling plays an etiological role in MPN formation. Because neoplastic cells in patients are largely insensitive to current anti-JAK2 therapies, effective therapies remain needed. Members of the PIM family of serine/threonine kinases are induced by JAK/STAT signaling, regulate hematopoietic stem cell growth, protect hematopoietic cells from apoptosis, and exhibit hematopoietic cell transforming properties. We hypothesized that PIM kinases may offer a therapeutic target for MPNs. We treated JAK2-V617F-dependent MPN model cells as well as primary MPN patient cells with the PIM kinase inhibitors SGI-1776 and AZD1208 and the JAK2 inhibitor ruxolitinib. While MPN model cells were rather insensitive to PIM inhibitors, combination of PIM inhibitors with ruxolitinib led to a synergistic effect on MPN cell growth due to enhanced apoptosis. Importantly, PIM inhibitor mono-therapy inhibited, and AZD1208/ruxolitinib combination therapy synergistically suppressed, colony formation of primary MPN cells. Enhanced apoptosis by combination therapy was associated with activation of BAD, inhibition of downstream components of the mTOR pathway, including p70S6K and S6 protein, and activation of 4EBP1. Importantly, PIM inhibitors re-sensitized ruxolitinib-resistant MPN cells to ruxolitinib by inducing apoptosis. Finally, exogenous expression of PIM1 induced ruxolitinib resistance in MPN model cells. These data indicate that PIMs may play a role in MPNs and that combining PIM and JAK2 kinase inhibitors may offer a more efficacious therapeutic approach for MPNs over JAK2 inhibitor mono-therapy.
Project description:Introduction: The past 10 years have seen dramatic advances in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of BCR-ABL negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). With this knowledge has come novel, molecularly targeted therapies such as JAK inhibitors that may decrease symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with MPNs. Despite these advances, progression of the disease to an acute leukemic (blast) phase remains difficult to predict and even more difficult to treat, with high rates of disease relapse and mortality.Areas covered: We performed a literature review of known risk factors for progression of MPNs towards blast phase and treatment options for transformed disease, including approved and investigational agents. Herein, we review the current literature and suggest strategies for improving outcomes in the future.Expert commentary: Further understanding of the biologic basis for transformation of MPNs from the chronic to blast phase is needed in order to predict, prevent, and treat these cases. Patients with MPNs in blast phase should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials whenever possible.
Project description:BACKGROUND:RUNX1-RUNX1T1 transcript levels were established as a powerful marker for predicting relapse in patients with t(8;21) acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We aimed to identify the efficacy of minimal residual disease (MRD)-directed interferon-alpha (IFN-?) treatment in patients with t(8;21) AML who were positive for MRD after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT; n=42). SUBJECTS, MATERIALS, AND METHODS:MRD-positive status was defined as a <4.5-log reduction from diagnosis in RUNX1-RUNX1T1 transcripts and/or the loss of a ?4.5-log reduction after 3 months after HSCT. Patients with positive MRD received six cycles of IFN-? treatment (twice or thrice weekly of every 4 weeks cycle). RESULTS:The 1-year cumulative incidence of severe acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease after MRD-directed IFN-? treatment was 7.1% and 4.8%, respectively. After the treatment, 15 (35.7%), 5 (11.9%), 3 (7.1%), and 9 (21.5%) patients achieved MRD negativity at 1, 2, 3, and >3 months, respectively. Three patients relapsed after the IFN-? treatment, in which the 1-year cumulative incidence of relapse was 7.2%. One patient died of severe infection at 460 days after treatment. The 1-year probabilities of event-free survival, disease-free survival, and overall survival after treatment were 76.0%, 92.4%, and 92.5%, respectively. The clinical outcomes in patients who received MRD-directed IFN-? treatment were significantly better than those of the MRD-positive patients without any interventions in the historical cohort. CONCLUSION:MRD-directed IFN-? treatment is effective for patients with t(8;21) AML who were MRD-positive after allo-HSCT. The study was registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02027064. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:In patients with t(8;21) acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the presence of post-allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) minimal residual disease (MRD), measured by RUNX1-RUNX1T1 transcript levels, has been established as a powerful marker for predicting relapse. Interferon-alpha (IFN-?) could exert a relatively strong graft-versus-leukemia effect, and MRD-directed IFN-? treatment is effective for patients with t(8;21) AML who were MRD-positive after allo-HSCT.