BTK inhibitors, Bcl-2 inhibitors, and other targeted therapies have significantly improved outcomes for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). With increased survivorship, monitoring disease and deciphering potential mechanisms of resistance to these agents are critical for devising effective treatment strategies. We used duplex sequencing, a technology that enables detection of mutations at ultra-low allelic frequencies, to identify mutations in five genes associated with drug resistance in CLL and followed their evolution in two patients who received multiple targeted therapies and ultimately developed disease progression on pirtobrutinib. In both patients, we detected variants that expanded and reached significant cancer cell fraction (CCF). In patient R001, multiple known resistance mutations in both BTKand PLCG2 appeared following progression on zanubrutinib (BTK p.L528W, p.C481S, PLCG2 S707F, L845F, R665W, and D993H). In contrast, patient R002 developed multiple BTK mutations following acalabrutinib treatment including known resistance mutations p.C481R, p.T474I and p.C481S. We found that pirtobrutinib was able to suppress, but not completely eradicate, BTK p.C481S mutations in both patients, but other resistance mutations such as mutations in PLCG2 and new BTK mutations increased while receiving pirtobrutinib. For example, BTK p.L528W in patient R001 increased in frequency more than 1000-fold (from CCF 0.02% to 35%), and p.T474I in patient R002 increased in CCF from 0.03% to 4.2% (more than 100-fold). Our data illuminates the evolutionary dynamics of resistant clones over the patients’ disease course and under selective pressure from different targeted treatments.
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