Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), including polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and primary myelofibrosis, have a propensity to evolve into accelerated and blast-phase disease (MPN-AP/BP), carrying a dismal prognosis. Conventional antileukemia therapy has limited efficacy in this setting. Thus, MPN-AP/BP is an urgent unmet clinical need. Modest responses to hypomethylating agents and single-agent ruxolitinib have been reported. More recently, combination of ruxolitinib and decitabine has demonstrated synergistic in vitro activity in human and murine systems. These observations led us to conduct a phase 1 study to explore the safety of combined decitabine and dose-escalated ruxolitinib in patients with MPN-AP/BP. A total of 21 patients were accrued to this multicenter study. Ruxolitinib was administered at doses of 10, 15, 25, or 50 mg twice daily in combination with decitabine (20 mg/m2 per day for 5 days) in 28-day cycles. The maximum tolerated dose was not reached. The most common reasons for study discontinuation were toxicity/adverse events (37%) and disease progression (21%). Fourteen patients died during study treatment period or follow-up. The median overall survival for patients on study was 7.9 months (95% confidence interval, 4.1-not reached). Among evaluable patients, the overall response rate by protocol-defined criteria (complete remission with incomplete count recovery 1 partial remission) was 9/17 (53%) and by intention-to-treat analysis was 9/21 (42.9%). The combination of decitabine and ruxolitinib was generally well tolerated by patients with MPN-AP/BP and demonstrates potentially promising clinical activity. A phase 2 trial evaluating the efficacy of this combination regimen is ongoing within the Myeloproliferative Disorder Research Consortium.
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