Children's oncology group AALL0434: A phase III randomized clinical trial testing nelarabine in newly diagnosed t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Kimberly P. Dunsmore, Stuart S. Winter, Meenakshi Devidas, Brent L. Wood, Natia Esiashvili, Zhiguo Chen, Nancy Eisenberg, Nikki Briegel, Robert J. Hayashi, Julie M. Gastier-Foster, Andrew J. Carroll, Nyla A. Heerema, Barbara L. Asselin, Karen R. Rabin, Patrick A. Zweidler-Mckay, Elizabeth A. Raetz, Mignon L. Loh, Kirk R. Schultz, Naomi J. Winick, William L. CarrollStephen P. Hunger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Nelarabine is effective in inducing remission in patients with relapsed and refractory T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) but has not been fully evaluated in those with newly diagnosed disease. PATIENTS AND METHODS From 2007 to 2014, Children's Oncology Group trial AALL0434 ( identifier: NCT00408005) enrolled 1,562 evaluable patients with T-ALL age 1-31 years who received the augmented Berlin-Frankfurt-Muenster (ABFM) regimen with a 2 × 2 pseudo-factorial randomization to receive escalating-dose methotrexate (MTX) without leucovorin rescue plus pegaspargase (C-MTX) or high-dose MTX (HDMTX) with leucovorin rescue. Intermediate- and high-risk patients were also randomly assigned after induction to receive or not receive six 5-day courses of nelarabine that was incorporated into ABFM. Patients who experienced induction failure were nonrandomly assigned to HDMTX plus nelarabine. Patients with overt CNS disease (CNS3; ≥ 5 WBCs/mL with blasts) received HDMTX and were randomly assigned to receive or not receive nelarabine. All patients, except those with low-risk disease, received cranial irradiation. RESULTS The 5-year event-free and overall survival rates were 83.7%±1.1% and 89.5% ±0.9%, respectively. The 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) rates for patients with T-ALL randomly assigned to nelarabine (n 5 323) and no nelarabine (n = 336) were 88.2% ± 2.4% and 82.1% ± 2.7%, respectively (P =029). Differences between DFS in a four-arm comparison were significant (P =01), with no interactions between the MTX and nelarabine randomizations (P =41). Patients treated with the best-performing arm, C-MTX plus nelarabine, had a 5-year DFS of 91% (n =147). Patients who received nelarabine had significantly fewer isolated and combined CNS relapses compared with patients who did not receive nelarabine (1.3% ±0.63% v 6.9% ±1.4%, respectively; P 5 .0001). Toxicities, including neurotoxicity, were acceptable and similar between all four arms. CONCLUSION The addition of nelarabine to ABFM therapy improved DFS for children and young adults with newly diagnosed T-ALL without increased toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3282-3293
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number28
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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