Alexander Perl

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (30)219.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) represent transformative therapies for several malignancies. Two critical features necessary for maximizing TKI tolerability and response duration are kinase selectivity and invulnerability to resistance-conferring kinase domain (KD) mutations in the intended target. No prior TKI has demonstrated both of these properties. Aiming to maximize selectivity, medicinal chemists have largely sought to create TKIs that bind to an inactive (type II) kinase conformation. Here we demonstrate that the investigational type I TKI crenolanib is a potent inhibitor of Fms tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) internal tandem duplication, a validated therapeutic target in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as well as all secondary KD mutants previously shown to confer resistance to the first highly active FLT3 TKI quizartinib. Moreover, crenolanib is highly selective for FLT3 relative to the closely related protein tyrosine kinase KIT, demonstrating that simultaneous FLT3/KIT inhibition, a prominent feature of other clinically active FLT3 TKIs, is not required for AML cell cytotoxicity in vitro and may contribute to undesirable toxicity in patients. A saturation mutagenesis screen of FLT3-internal tandem duplication failed to recover any resistant colonies in the presence of a crenolanib concentration well below what has been safely achieved in humans, suggesting that crenolanib has the potential to suppress KD mutation-mediated clinical resistance. Crenolanib represents the first TKI to exhibit both kinase selectivity and invulnerability to resistance-conferring KD mutations, which is unexpected of a type I inhibitor. Crenolanib has significant promise for achieving deep and durable responses in FLT3-mutant AML, and may have a profound impact upon future medicinal chemistry efforts in oncology.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While the prognosis for older adults diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is frequently poor, long-term survival can be achieved in patients treated with curative intent. We reviewed the outcomes of 37 patients age ≥60 treated at our institution with either DVP- or hyperCVAD-based chemotherapy regimens from 2003–2011. In this patient population, a complete response rate of 92%, relapse rate of 56% and median overall survival of 18.1 months was experienced. Univariate analysis revealed that receipt of maintenance therapy vs. no maintenance therapy was associated with a statistically-significant impact on overall survival (p = 0.001, HR 0.15 for death), while disease-related characteristics including high-risk white blood cell count at diagnosis and Philadelphia chromosome status as well as treatment-related factors including chemotherapy regimen or completion of intensive therapy were not. Many patients were unable to initiate or remain on maintenance therapy due to toxicities including infections and cytopenias. Our analysis reveals the benefit of prolonged therapy in the treatment of older adults with ALL as well as the high incidence of treatment-related toxicity experienced by these patients. Am. J. Hematol. 88:657–660, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Hematology 08/2013; 88(8). · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer-associated IDH mutations produce the metabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG), but the clinical utility of serum 2HG measurements is not established. We studied whether 2HG measurements in AML patients correlate with IDH mutations, and whether diagnostic or remission 2HG measurements predict survival. Serum from 223 adults with de novo AML (62 IDH-mutated, 161 wild-type) were analyzed for 2HG concentration by reverse-phase liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Pretreatment 2HG levels ranged from 10 to 30,000ng/ml and were elevated in IDH-mutants (median 3004ng/ml), compared to the wild-type cohort (median 61ng/ml) (p<0.0005). 2HG levels did not differ among IDH1 or IDH2 allelic variants. In receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis, a discriminatory level of 700ng/ml segregated patients with and without IDH mutations with 86.9% sensitivity and 90.7% specificity. On repeat mutational analysis of 13 IDH wild-type samples with 2HG levels >700ng/ml, IDH mutations were identified in nine samples. IDH-mutant patients with 2HG levels >200ng/ml at complete remission experienced shorter overall survival compared to those with 2HG<200ng/ml (HR 3.9, p=0.02). We establish a firm association between IDH mutations and elevated serum 2HG concentration in AML. These data confirm that serum measurement of an oncometabolite provides useful diagnostic and prognostic information, and can improve patient selection for IDH-targeted therapies.
    Blood 05/2013; · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background The PI3K-Akt pathway is frequently activated in acute leukemias and represents an important therapeutic target. UCN-01 and perifosine are known to inhibit Akt activation. Methods The primary objective of this phase I study was to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of UCN-01 given in combination with perifosine in patients with advanced acute leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome. Secondary objectives included safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and efficacy. Perifosine 150 mg every 6 h was given orally on day 1 followed by 100 mg once a day continuously in 28-day cycles. UCN-01 was given intravenously over 3 h on day 4 at three dose levels (DL1 = 40 mg/m(2); DL2 = 65 mg/m(2); DL3 = 90 mg/m(2)). Results Thirteen patients were treated (DL1, n = 6; DL2, n = 4; DL3, n = 3) according to a traditional "3 + 3" design. Two patients at the DL3 experienced dose-limiting toxicity including grade 3-4 pericardial effusion, hypotension, hyperglycemia, hyperkalemia, constitutional symptoms and grade 5 pneumonitis. Other frequent toxicities were grade 1-2 nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and hyperglycemia. The MTD was determined to be UCN-01 65 mg/m(2) with perifosine 100 mg a day. No appreciable direct Akt inhibition could be demonstrated in patients' mononuclear cells using Western blot, however, reduced phosphorylation of the downstream target ribosomal protein S6 in leukemic blasts was noted by intracellular flow cytometry. No objective responses were observed on this study. Conclusion UCN-01 and perifosine can be safely administered, but this regimen lacked clinical efficacy. This approach may have failed because of insufficient Akt inhibition in vivo.
    Investigational New Drugs 02/2013; · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A hallmark of cancer is the disruption of differentiation within tumor cells. Internal tandem duplication mutations of the FLT3 kinase (FLT3/ITD) occur commonly in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are associated with poor survival, leading to efforts to develop FLT3 kinase inhibitors. However, FLT3 inhibitors have thus far met with limited success, inducing only a clearance of peripheral blasts with minimal marrow responses. Quizartinib is a novel potent and selective FLT3 inhibitor currently being studied in clinical trials. In 13 out of 14 FLT3/ITD AML patients with normal karyotype treated with quizartinib, we observed terminal myeloid differentiation of marrow blasts in association with a clinical differentiation syndrome. The single patient whose blasts failed to differentiate had a pre-existing C/EBPα mutation, while another developed a C/EBPα mutation at disease progression, suggesting a mechanism of resistance to FLT3 inhibition. In vitro, in primary blasts co-cultured with human bone marrow stroma, FLT3 inhibition with quizartinib induced cell cycle arrest and differentiation rather than apoptosis. This is the first description of terminal differentiation of cancer cells in patients treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. These data highlight the importance of the differentiation block in the pathogenesis of AML. (NCI clinical trials # NCT00989261).
    Blood 09/2012; · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Effective targeted cancer therapeutic development depends upon distinguishing disease-associated 'driver' mutations, which have causative roles in malignancy pathogenesis, from 'passenger' mutations, which are dispensable for cancer initiation and maintenance. Translational studies of clinically active targeted therapeutics can definitively discriminate driver from passenger lesions and provide valuable insights into human cancer biology. Activating internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations in FLT3 (FLT3-ITD) are detected in approximately 20% of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients and are associated with a poor prognosis. Abundant scientific and clinical evidence, including the lack of convincing clinical activity of early FLT3 inhibitors, suggests that FLT3-ITD probably represents a passenger lesion. Here we report point mutations at three residues within the kinase domain of FLT3-ITD that confer substantial in vitro resistance to AC220 (quizartinib), an active investigational inhibitor of FLT3, KIT, PDGFRA, PDGFRB and RET; evolution of AC220-resistant substitutions at two of these amino acid positions was observed in eight of eight FLT3-ITD-positive AML patients with acquired resistance to AC220. Our findings demonstrate that FLT3-ITD can represent a driver lesion and valid therapeutic target in human AML. AC220-resistant FLT3 kinase domain mutants represent high-value targets for future FLT3 inhibitor development efforts.
    Nature 04/2012; 485(7397):260-3. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Integration of signal transduction inhibitors into chemotherapy regimens generally has generally not led to anticipated increases in response and survival. However, it remains unclear whether this is because of inadequate or inconsistent inhibition of target or other complex biology. The mTOR signaling pathway is frequently activated in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and we previously showed the safety of combining the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus, with mitoxantrone, etoposide, and cytarabine (MEC) chemotherapy. However, we did not reliably determine the extent of mTOR inhibition on that study. Here, we sought to develop an assay that allowed us to serially quantify the activation state of mTOR kinase during therapy. To provide evidence of mTOR kinase activation and inhibition, we applied a validated whole blood fixation/permeabilization technique for flow cytometry to serially monitor S6 ribosomal protein (S6) phosphorylation in immunophenotypically identified AML blasts. With this approach, we show activation of mTOR signaling in 8 of 10 subjects' samples (80%) and conclusively show inhibition of mTOR in the majority of subjects' tumor cell during therapy. Of note, S6 phosphorylation in AML blasts is heterogeneous and, in some cases, intrinsically resistant to rapamycin at clinically achieved concentrations. The methodology described is rapid and reproducible. We show the feasibility of real-time, direct pharmacodynamic monitoring by flow cytometry during clinical trials combining intensive chemotherapy and signal transduction inhibitors. This approach greatly clarifies pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships and has broad application to preclinical and clinical testing of drugs whose direct or downstream effects disrupt PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling.
    Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 18(6):1716-25. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    Alexander Perl, Martin Carroll
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a hematopoietic disease characterized by expansion of myeloid blood cells. It is caused by the t(9;22) chromosomal translocation that results in the expression of the fusion tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL. Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy has led to long-term remissions, but patients remain BCR-ABL+. There is agreement that TKIs do not kill CML stem cells; however, it is controversial whether this is because of a lack of BCR-ABL kinase inhibition in CML stem cells or because CML stem cells do not require BCR-ABL for survival. In this issue of the JCI, Corbin and colleagues provide definitive evidence that BCR-ABL is kinase active in CML stem cells and that TKIs inhibit this kinase activity without affecting CML stem cell survival. Rather, CML stem cells revert to a normal dependence on cytokines for survival and proliferation. These results demonstrate that the CML stem cell is not BCR-ABL addicted and have important implications for developing curative therapeutic approaches to CML.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 01/2011; 121(1):22-5. · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a randomized trial of therapy for FMS-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) mutant acute myeloid leukemia in first relapse, 224 patients received chemotherapy alone or followed by 80 mg of the FLT3 inhibitor lestaurtinib twice daily. Endpoints included complete remission or complete remission with incomplete platelet recovery (CR/CRp), overall survival, safety, and tolerability. Correlative studies included pharmacokinetics and analysis of in vivo FLT3 inhibition. There were 29 patients with CR/CRp in the lestaurtinib arm and 23 in the control arm (26% vs 21%; P = .35), and no difference in overall survival between the 2 arms. There was evidence of toxicity in the lestaurtinib-treated patients, particularly those with plasma levels in excess of 20 μM. In the lestaurtinib arm, FLT3 inhibition was highly correlated with remission rate, but target inhibition on day 15 was achieved in only 58% of patients receiving lestaurtinib. Given that such a small proportion of patients on this trial achieved sustained FLT3 inhibition in vivo, any conclusions regarding the efficacy of combining FLT3 inhibition with chemotherapy are limited. Overall, lestaurtinib treatment after chemotherapy did not increase response rates or prolong survival of patients with FLT3 mutant acute myeloid leukemia in first relapse. This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00079482.
    Blood 01/2011; 117(12):3294-301. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The myeloid malignancies include the myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) including chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A growing body of evidence documents that these diseases are caused by genetic mutations that constitutively activate tyrosine kinases. They include the BCR/ABL in CML, the V617F JAK2 in Philadelphia chromosome-negative MPN, and the Flt3 ITD and TKD mutations in AML. Trials of the ABL kinase inhibitor, imatinib, have revolutionized the treatment of CML, and there are ongoing studies with other kinase inhibitors in MPN and AML. Here we review results of recent studies with first-generation JAK2 inhibitors in the treatment of MPN and second-generation ABL and Flt3 inhibitors in CML and AML, respectively. It is becoming apparent that although these kinase mutations have similar effects in vitro, each of the diseases has unique features that alter the use of kinase inhibitors in the clinic.
    Current Oncology Reports 11/2010; 12(6):358-65. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Treatment options for steroid-refractory GVHD (SR-GVHD) are unsatisfactory and prognosis is poor. Inflammatory cytokines IL-2 and TNF-α are important mediators of GVHD and may be critical targets for therapy. We retrospectively reviewed our experience using combination anti-cytokine therapy of daclizumab and infliximab. Seventeen evaluable patients had a median age of 47 years (range 35-63). The conditioning regimen was myeloablative in 13 and non-myeloablative in 4 cases. GVHD occurred at a median of 49 days after transplant in 12 patients (range 21-231 days) and at a median of 46 days (range 25-119 days) after donor lymphocyte infusion in 5 patients. All patients had persistent or progressive GVHD despite 1-2 mg/kg/day of corticosteroids for a median of 7 days (range 2-26 days). They received a combination of daclizumab and infliximab for acute GVHD IBMTR severity index B (3), C (10) or D (4). Of the 17 patients analyzed, 47% responded to treatment, 24% had complete resolution of symptoms and 24% had partial responses. Survival was limited and all the patients died a median of 6.7 months (range 1.6-26) from transplant and 35 days from initiation of daclizumab/infliximab. This retrospective analysis suggests that combination anti-cytokine therapy with daclizumab/infliximab has significant activity in SR-GVHD, but outcomes remain poor. New methods to prevent and treat GVHD are urgently needed.
    Bone marrow transplantation 05/2010; 46(3):430-5. · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) progresses from the chronic phase to blast crisis, the levels of BCR-ABL increase. In addition, blast-transformed leukemic cells display enhanced resistance to imatinib in the absence of BCR-ABL-resistance mutations. In this study, we show that when BCR-ABL-transformed cell lines were selected for imatinib resistance in vitro, the cells that grew out displayed a higher BCR-ABL expression comparable to the increase seen in accelerated forms of the disease. This enhanced expression of BCR-ABL was associated with an increased rate of glycolysis but with a decreased rate of proliferation. The higher level of BCR-ABL expression in the selected cells correlated with a nonhypoxic induction of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) that was required for cells to tolerate enhanced BCR-ABL signaling. HIF-1alpha induction resulted in an enhanced rate of glycolysis but with reduced glucose flux through both the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the oxidative arm of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). The reduction in oxidative PPP-mediated ribose synthesis was compensated by the HIF-1alpha-dependent activation of the nonoxidative PPP enzyme, transketolase, in imatinib-resistant CML cells. In both primary cultures of cells from patients exhibiting blast transformation and in vivo xenograft tumors, use of oxythiamine, which can inhibit both the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and transketolase, resulted in enhanced imatinib sensitivity of tumor cells. Together, these results suggest that oxythiamine can enhance imatinib efficacy in patients who present an accelerated form of the disease.
    Oncogene 03/2010; 29(20):2962-72. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The somatic mutations in cytosolic isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) observed in gliomas can lead to the production of 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). Here, we report that tumor 2HG is elevated in a high percentage of patients with cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Surprisingly, less than half of cases with elevated 2HG possessed IDH1 mutations. The remaining cases with elevated 2HG had mutations in IDH2, the mitochondrial homolog of IDH1. These data demonstrate that a shared feature of all cancer-associated IDH mutations is production of the oncometabolite 2HG. Furthermore, AML patients with IDH mutations display a significantly reduced number of other well characterized AML-associated mutations and/or associated chromosomal abnormalities, potentially implicating IDH mutation in a distinct mechanism of AML pathogenesis.
    Cancer cell 02/2010; 17(3):225-34. · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inhibiting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) blasts and leukemic stem cells may enhance their sensitivity to cytotoxic agents. We sought to determine the safety and describe the toxicity of this approach by adding the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus (rapamycin), to intensive AML induction chemotherapy. We performed a phase I dose escalation study of sirolimus with the chemotherapy regimen MEC (mitoxantrone, etoposide, and cytarabine) in patients with relapsed, refractory, or untreated secondary AML. Twenty-nine subjects received sirolimus and MEC across five dose levels. Dose-limiting toxicities were irreversible marrow aplasia and multiorgan failure. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of sirolimus was determined to be a 12 mg loading dose on day 1 followed by 4 mg/d on days 2 to 7, concurrent with MEC chemotherapy. Complete or partial remissions occurred in 6 (22%) of the 27 subjects who completed chemotherapy, including 3 (25%) of the 12 subjects treated at the MTD. At the MTD, measured rapamycin trough levels were within the therapeutic range for solid organ transplantation. However, direct measurement of the mTOR target p70 S6 kinase phosphorylation in marrow blasts from these subjects only showed definite target inhibition in one of five evaluable samples. Sirolimus and MEC is an active and feasible regimen. However, as administered in this study, the synergy between MEC and sirolimus was not confirmed. Future studies are planned with different schedules to clarify the clinical and biochemical effects of sirolimus in AML and to determine whether target inhibition predicts chemotherapy response.
    Clinical Cancer Research 11/2009; 15(21):6732-9. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Xenotransplantation of human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in immunocompromised animals has been critical for defining leukemic stem cells. However, existing immunodeficient strains of mice have short life spans and low levels of AML cell engraftment, hindering long-term evaluation of primary human AML biology. A recent study suggested that NOD/LtSz-scid IL2Rgammac null (NSG) mice have enhanced AML cell engraftment, but this relied on technically challenging neonatal injections. Here, we performed extensive analysis of AML engraftment in adult NSG mice using tail vein injection. Of the 35 AML samples analyzed, 66% showed bone marrow engraftment over 0.1%. Further, 37% showed high levels of engraftment (>10%), with some as high as 95%. A 2-44-fold expansion of AML cells was often seen. Secondary and tertiary recipients showed consistent engraftment, with most showing further AML cell expansion. Engraftment did not correlate with French-American-British subtype or cytogenetic abnormalities. However, samples with FLT3 mutations showed a higher probability of engraftment than FLT3 wild type. Importantly, animals developed organomegaly and a wasting illness consistent with advanced leukemia. We conclude that the NSG xenotransplantation model is a robust model for human AML cell engraftment, which will allow better characterization of AML biology and testing of new therapies.
    Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K 08/2009; 23(11):2109-17. · 10.16 Impact Factor
  • Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation - BIOL BLOOD MARROW TRANSPLANT. 01/2009; 15(2):130-130.
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    ABSTRACT: Bexarotene is a retinoic X receptor agonist that has been shown in vitro to inhibit growth and induce differentiation of myeloid leukemic cell lines. We therefore conducted a phase I dose escalation study to assess the maximum tolerated dose, toxicities, and activity of bexarotene in patients with non-M3 acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We enrolled patients with active non-M3 AML who had either relapsed or refractory disease or were not eligible for standard cytotoxic chemotherapy. Cohorts of three to six patients received escalating doses of daily oral bexarotene ranging from 100 to 400 mg/m(2) until evidence of disease progression or unacceptable adverse events occurred. Twenty-seven patients, with median age of 69 years (range, 51-82 years), were treated. Twenty-four (89%) patients had undergone prior chemotherapy. At the highest dose level tested (400 mg/m(2)), three of six patients had to reduce their dose of bexarotene due to grade 3 adverse events. The maximum tolerable dose of bexarotene was determined to be 300 mg/m(2). Clinical activity was manifested by 4 (15%) patients with reduction in bone marrow blasts to <or=5%, 11 (41%) patients with improved platelet counts, and 7 (26%) patients with improved neutrophil counts. Three patients with relapsed AML survived >1 year while taking bexarotene. Leukemic blast differentiation was suggested by the presence of the leukemic cytogenetic abnormality in mature circulating granulocytes and the occurrence of differentiation syndrome. The recommended dose of bexarotene for future studies is 300 mg/m(2)/d. Bexarotene is well tolerated in patients with non-M3 AML and has evidence of antileukemic activity.
    Clinical Cancer Research 09/2008; 14(17):5619-25. · 7.84 Impact Factor
  • Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation - BIOL BLOOD MARROW TRANSPLANT. 01/2008; 14(2):116-116.
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    ABSTRACT: High-dose melphalan with autologous stem cell support improves survival as part of initial therapy for myeloma. Previous studies of pre-transplant induction regimens have compared paraprotein response rates but not long-term outcomes after transplant. We reviewed the records of all patients with multiple myeloma who received an autologous stem cell transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. We compared outcomes for 69 patients who received high-dose melphalan conditioning after January 1, 2003 as part of initial therapy for myeloma, including 41 patients who received anthracycline-based induction (VAD or DVD) and 28 patients who received thalidomide and dexamethasone induction. Baseline characteristics in these two groups were not different, though potentially clinically important differences were apparent in assignment to post-transplant consolidation and maintenance therapy. Despite similar response rates during induction therapy, thalidomide and dexamethasone induction was associated with better progression-free survival (hazard ratio 0.18, P = 0.011) after transplant. This effect persisted in multivariable regression models including baseline characteristics and post-transplant treatment. Overall survival was not different between the two groups. These results suggest that the use of thalidomide during induction therapy may lead to improved long-term outcomes after transplant. Future trials comparing induction therapies should examine progression-free and overall survival after transplant to confirm this benefit.
    American Journal of Hematology 01/2008; 82(12):1071-5. · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe a 58-year-old man with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who developed diffuse left ventricular myocardial calcification during an episode of sepsis seen at computed tomographic imaging.
    Journal of Thoracic Imaging 12/2007; 22(4):343-5. · 1.26 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

944 Citations
219.39 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007–2013
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • • "Abramson" Cancer Center
      • • Division of Hematology/Oncology
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States