The safety and efficacy of ibrutinib, an oral inhibitor of Bruton tyrosine kinase, were evaluated with chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) in a multicenter phase 1b study. Patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia received bendamustine and rituximab (BR) or fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) for up to 6 cycles with daily ibrutinib (420 mg) until progressive disease or unacceptable toxicity. Enrollment to FCR-ibrutinib closed early due to a lack of fludarabine-naive previously treated patients. No patients treated with BR-ibrutinib (n = 30) or FCR-ibrutinib (n = 3) experienced prolonged hematologic toxicity in cycle 1 (primary end point). Tolerability was as expected with either CIT or single-agent ibrutinib. The overall response rate (ORR) with BR-ibrutinib was 93.3%, including 16.7% complete responses (CRs) initially, which increased to 40% with the extension period. Including 1 patient with partial response with lymphocytosis, the best ORR was 96.7%. Sixteen of 21 patients with baseline cytopenias had sustained hematologic improvement. At 12 and 36 months, 86.3% and 70.3% remained progression-free, respectively. All 3 patients treated with ibrutinib-FCR achieved CR. Ibrutinib may enhance CIT efficacy without additive toxicities, providing the rationale for studying this combination in an ongoing phase 3 trial.
School of Medicine