Administration of pediatric-inspired chemotherapy to adults up to age 60 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is challenging in part due to toxicities of asparaginase as well as myelosuppression. We conducted a multicenter phase II clinical trial (NCT01920737) investigating a pediatric-inspired regimen, based on the augmented arm of the Children’s Cancer Group 1882 protocol, incorporating 6 doses of pegaspargase 2000 IU/m2, rationally synchronized to avoid overlapping toxicity with other agents. We treated 39 adults ages 20-60 years (median, 38 years) with newly-diagnosed ALL (n=31) or lymphoblastic lymphoma (n=8). Grade 3-4 hyperbilirubinemia occurred frequently and at higher rates in patients 40-60 (n=18) vs 18-39 (n=21) years (44 vs 10%, p=0.025). However, 8/9 patients re-challenged with pegaspargase did not experience recurrent grade 3-4 hyperbilirubinemia. Grade 3-4 hypertriglyceridemia and hypofibrinogenemia were common (each 59%). Asparaginase activity at 7-days post-infusion reflected levels associated with adequate asparagine depletion, even among those with antibodies to pegaspargase. Complete response (CR)/CR with incomplete hematologic recovery was observed post-induction in 38/39 (97%) patients. Among patients with ALL, rates of MRD negativity by multiparameter flow cytometry were 33% and 83% following Induction Phase I and Phase II, respectively. Event-free and overall survival at 3 years (67.8 and 76.4%) compare favorably to outcomes observed in other series. These results demonstrate pegaspargase can be administered in the context of intensive multi-agent chemotherapy to adults age ≤60 with manageable toxicity. This regimen may serve as an effective backbone into which novel agents may be incorporated in future frontline studies.
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