Background: Chronic GVHD contributes to morbidity and mortality after allogeneic transplantation. Several phase 2 and 3 open label studies suggested that ATLG (formerly referred to as ATG-F) reduces cGVHD without impacting relapse or survival. This report describes the first prospective randomized double blind phase 3 trial to assess the effect of ATLG (Neovii) when added to tacrolimus / methotrexate prophylaxis on cGVHD free survival.
Patients and Methods: This study was conducted at 27 sites in the United States and Australia. 260 patients were randomized (132 placebo, 128 ATLG). 6 patients who were randomized never received ATLG/placebo (4 placebo and 2 ATLG). Data presented include the 128 placebo and 126 ATLG patients who underwent treatment and transplant. Patients were ages 18-65 years with a diagnosis of acute myeloid (AML, 64%) or lymphoblastic (ALL, 21%) leukemia in first or subsequent complete remission or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS, 15%) with less than 10% marrow blasts. Median age was 48 years (18-65) with 55% males. All patients received 8/8 HLA (A, B, C, DR) allele matched unrelated products (80% mobilized peripheral blood, 20% bone marrow). Myeloablative conditioning was with cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation (Cy/TBI, 27%), busulfan and cyclophosphamide (Bu/Cy, 33%), or busulfan and fludarabine (Bu/Flu, 40%). All patients received tacrolimus starting on Day -1 and standard mtx on days 1, 3, 6, and 11 for GVHD prophylaxis. Patients received ATLG or placebo on Days -3, -2, -1 at an ATLG dose of 20 mg/kg per day (60 mg/kg total). The primary endpoint of the study was moderate/severe chronic GVHD free survival. cGVHD was scored by the investigator and then confirmed or overturned by an independent adjudication committee. Secondary endpoints included engraftment, acute GVHD , moderate/severe cGVHD, non-relapse mortality, GVHD and relapse free survival (GRFS), progression free (PFS) and overall survival (OS). The impact of ATLG on immune reconstitution was assessed in 91 patients.
Results: Treatment arms were balanced with respect to age, diagnosis, remission status, cytogenetics, graft source (PB or BM), CMV serostatus and conditioning regimen. Median follow up of survivors was 745 days (61, 1425). Regarding the primary endpoint, there was no difference in 2 year moderate/severe cGVHD free survival between ATLG and placebo (48 vs 44%, p = 0.57), nor was there a difference in GRFS (Table 1). Neutrophil engraftment at Day 30 was less in the ATLG arm (85% vs 95%, p=0.00001). Grade 2 or higher infusion reactions were higher in the ATLG arm (16% vs 2.3%, p=0.0001). Reactivation of CMV was similar (27% vs 31%, p=0.58). The Day 180 cumulative incidence of grades 2-4 acute GVHD was lower in the ATLG arm (23 vs 40%, p = 0.003) as was the 2-year cumulative incidence of moderate/severe cGVHD (12 vs 33%, p = 0.000006). However, both 2-year OS and PFS were lower in ATLG treated patients (58 v 76% and 47 vs 67%, respectively) due in part to a higher incidence of relapse (32 vs 19%, p=0.068). Multivariable models confirmed that ATLG was associated with inferior OS, HR 1.85 (1.1-2.9, p=.0075) and PFS, HR 1.63 (1.1-2.41, p=0.015). We then conducted an unplanned post-hoc analysis and discovered a striking influence of conditioning regimen on outcomes. There were no differences in OS or PFS between ATLG and placebo arms in patients receiving Bu/Cy or Bu/Flu but a dramatic difference in patients receiving Cy/TBI conditioning (OS, 88% vs 48% p =0.006 and PFS, 75 vs 29%, p=0.007 in placebo and ATLG arms, respectively).
91 patients (44 ATLG, 47 placebo) participated in the immune reconstitution study. ATLG treatment was associated with lower CD3, CD4, and CD8 counts at Days 30, 100, and 360, respectively. In turn lower CD3, CD4, and CD8 counts assessed as time dependent variables were all associated with inferior OS and PFS as well as higher NRM (data not shown).
Conclusion: In this first ever prospective, randomized, double blind trial of ATLG added to tacrolimus /methotrexate in recipients of matched unrelated donor grafts after myeloablative conditioning, there was no significant difference in 2 year moderate/severe cGVHD free survival or GRFS. ATLG did significantly reduce grades 2-4 acute and moderate/severe chronic GVHD. However, overall survival was higher in the placebo arm, driven mainly by patients who received Cy/TBI conditioning. Further analyses are needed to understand the proper role for ATLG in HCT.
Soiffer: Juno: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Kiadis: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Jazz Pharmaceuticals: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Porter:Genentech: Employment; Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Jagasia:Therakos: Consultancy. Szer:Alnylam: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Ra Pharma: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Ritz:Kiadis: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Glavin:Neovii Biotech: Employment. Chen:Incyte Corporation: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding.