Recommendations for Project 7: CLL

Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia: a report from the International Workshop on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia updating the National Cancer Institute-Working Group 1996 guidelines
Blood. 2008 Jun 15;111(12):5446-56. Epub 2008 Jan 23.
Standardized criteria for diagnosis and response assessment are needed to interpret and compare clinical trials and for approval of new therapeutic agents by regulatory agencies. Therefore, a National Cancer Institute-sponsored Working Group (NCI-WG) on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) published guidelines for the design and conduct of clinical trials for patients with CLL in 1988, which were updated in 1996. During the past decade, considerable progress has been achieved in defining new prognostic markers, diagnostic parameters, and treatment options. This prompted the International Workshop on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (IWCLL) to provide updated recommendations for the management of CLL in clinical trials and general practice.

International standardized approach for flow cytometric residual disease monitoring in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Leukemia. 2007 May;21(5):956-64. Epub 2007 Mar 15.
Abstract: The eradication of minimal residual disease (MRD) in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) predicts for improved outcome. However, the wide variety of MRD techniques makes it difficult to interpret and compare different clinical trials. Our aim was to develop a standardized flow cytometric CLL-MRD assay and compare it to real-time quantitative allele-specific oligonucleotide (RQ-ASO) Immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH) polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Analysis of 728 paired blood and marrow samples demonstrated high concordance (87%) for patients off-therapy. Blood analysis was equally or more sensitive than marrow in 92% of samples but marrow analysis was necessary to detect MRD within 3 months of alemtuzumab therapy. Assessment of 50 CLL-specific antibody combinations identified three (CD5/CD19 with CD20/CD38, CD81/CD22 and CD79b/CD43) with low inter-laboratory variation and false-detection rates. Experienced operators demonstrated an accuracy of 95.7% (specificity 98.8%, sensitivity 91.1%) in 141 samples with 0.01-0.1% CLL. There was close correlation and 95% concordance with RQ-ASO IgH-PCR for detection of CLL above 0.01%. The proposed flow cytometry approach is applicable to all sample types and therapeutic regimes, and sufficiently rapid and sensitive to guide therapy to an MRD-negativity in real time. These techniques may be used as a tool for assessing response and comparing the efficacy of different therapeutic approaches.

Indications for allogeneic stem cell transplantation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: the EBMT transplant consensus
Leukemia (2007) 21, 12–17.
The aim of this project was to identify situations where allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) might be considered as a preferred treatment option for patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Based on a MEDLINE search and additional sources, a consented proposal was drafted, refined and approved upon final discussion by an international expert panel. Key elements of the consensus are (1) allo-SCT is a procedure with evidence-based efficacy in poor-risk CLL; (2) although definition of 'poor-risk CLL' requires further investigation, allo-SCT is a reasonable treatment option for younger patients with (i) non-response or early relapse (within 12 months) after purine analogues, (ii) relapse within 24 months after having achieved a response with purine-analogue-based combination therapy or autologous transplantation, and (iii) patients with p53 abnormalities requiring treatment; and (3) optimum transplant strategies may vary according to distinct clinical situations and should be defined in prospective trials. This is the first attempt to define standard indications for allo-SCT in CLL. Nevertheless, whenever possible, allo-SCT should be performed within disease-specific prospective clinical protocols in order to continuously refine transplant indications according to new developments in risk assessment and treatment of CLL.

ERIC recommendations on IGHV gene mutational status analysis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leukemia. 2007 Jan;21(1):1-3.
In recent years, determination of the mutational status of rearranged immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (IGHV) genes in large series of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) has shown strong and independent prognostic value.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 IGHV mutational status is thus being considered one of the most important prognostic factors to stratify patients in clinical trials.