The Beat AML Trial Improved Survival Rates with Targeted Therapies

Blood cancer treatment is undergoing a transformation, according to a recent study in Nature Medicine. In this regard, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently published its own account featuring the ongoing Beat AML Trial. The article demonstrates how LLS is changing the blood cancer treatment landscape.

One of the primary endpoints, precision medicine versus standard chemotherapy, was met. The patients who opted to be treated with various forms of precision medicine fared better than patients who chose the standard chemotherapy that has been used for the past forty years.

Patients were paired with personalized targeted therapies providing the additional benefit of improved rates of survival.

The study has shown that in certain circumstances doctors are now able to by-pass chemotherapy treatment and develop personalized therapy for their patients.

A Seven Day Turnaround

Adding to the excitement surrounding the Beat AML trial, researchers were able to identify AML subtypes within seven days. That is a new and long-awaited accomplishment.

But the most important aspect of the trial to doctors and patients is overall survival (OS). The median OS for a standard of care has been 3.9 months.

Of the 224 patients who chose to remain with the Beat AML study and receive treatment on one of its eleven arms, OS showed a vastly improved median count of 12.8 months.

Promising Results for Patients Over 60

 Multiple targeted therapies are being tested in the trial to treat newly diagnosed patients over age 60. The results have been encouraging.

The improvement in OS is the result of the use of genetic data for the purpose of matching patients to the new targeted therapies.

Established in 2016

The trial organizers formed a partnership with Foundation Medicine Inc. in an effort to use next-generation genomic sequencing to analyze patients’ cancer cells.

At the same time, it was important to examine the patient’s subtype. Once a subtype is identified, a targeted therapy is selected and treatment begins.

Beat AML was launched in November 2016 as the first clinical trial to study precision medicine in blood cancers. This is also a historic “first” for LLS as a non-profit organization sponsoring a clinical trial.

Since its launch, from November 2016 through January 2018, over one thousand patients in sixteen centers have been screened.

About The Trial

AML is an aggressive cancer of the blood and marrow. For at least forty years the drugs used for initial induction generally included either cytarabine and daunorubicin chemotherapies or hypomethylating agents.

And now to test the new drugs. Of 487 patient volunteers, a total of 395 were eligible for the clinical trial. Within seven days, ninety-four percent of participating volunteers were analyzed and screened.

Eventually, the number of participants fell to 224 patients. These patients opted to join the eleven active study arms. The non-participating patients chose either the standard induction, other clinical trials, or palliative care.

Dealing With COVID-19

LLS noted recent statistics that show patients with blood cancers have a thirty to sixty percent risk of death due to COVID-19 infections. It created a new Beat COVID trial for patients with all types of blood cancers who have been infected with the COVID virus.

Beat COVID has begun to test a drug called Calquence® that attacks the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include inflammation of the lungs and other critical organs.

LLS is also developing other trials on the same order as Beat AML. One of the trials, called LLS PedAL, centers on children with acute leukemia who have relapsed.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

LLS, headquartered in Rye Brook, New York, leads the nation and perhaps the world in the fight against cancer.

In addition to fighting for a cure and funding worldwide blood cancer research, LLS is supportive of patients and their families. The society provides free information and represents blood cancer patients throughout the world.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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