The clinicogenomic landscape of induction failure in childhood and young adult T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

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PURPOSE: Failure to respond to induction chemotherapy portends a poor outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and is more frequent in T-cell ALL (T-ALL) than B-cell ALL. We aimed to address the limited understanding of clinical and genetic factors that influence outcome in a cohort of patients with T-ALL induction failure (IF). METHODS: We studied all cases of T-ALL IF on two consecutive multinational randomized trials, UKALL2003 and UKALL2011, to define risk factors, treatment, and outcomes. We performed multiomic profiling to characterize the genomic landscape. RESULTS: IF occurred in 10.3% of cases and was significantly associated with increasing age, occurring in 20% of patients age 16 years and older. Five-year overall survival (OS) rates were 52.1% in IF and 90.2% in responsive patients (P < .001). Despite increased use of nelarabine-based chemotherapy consolidated by hematopoietic stem-cell transplant in UKALL2011, there was no improvement in outcome. Persistent end-of-consolidation molecular residual disease resulted in a significantly worse outcome (5-year OS, 14.3% v 68.5%; HR, 4.10; 95% CI, 1.35 to 12.45; P = .0071). Genomic profiling revealed a heterogeneous picture with 25 different initiating lesions converging on 10 subtype-defining genes. There was a remarkable abundance of TAL1 noncoding lesions, associated with a dismal outcome (5-year OS, 12.5%). Combining TAL1 lesions with mutations in the MYC and RAS pathways produces a genetic stratifier that identifies patients highly likely to fail conventional therapy (5-year OS, 23.1% v 86.4%; HR, 6.84; 95% CI, 2.78 to 16.78; P < .0001) and who should therefore be considered for experimental agents. CONCLUSION: The outcome of IF in T-ALL remains poor with current therapy. The lack of a unifying genetic driver suggests alternative approaches, particularly using immunotherapy, are urgently needed.

Journal details

Volume 41
Issue number 19
Pages 3545-3556
Available online
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