SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced the latest data from three pivotal Phase III studies of Venclexta® (venetoclax) – CLL14, MURANO and VIALE-A – to be presented at the European Hematology Association Virtual Congress, June 9-17 (EHA2021). Long-term follow-up data from the CLL14 and MURANO studies support the primary analysis of Venclexta in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and the possibility of tailoring treatment approaches based on genetic risk factors. Furthermore, the latest research shows the potential of minimal residual disease (MRD) as a key measure of disease response in CLL and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
“The data from these Venclexta combinations support our continued commitment to provide valuable therapeutic options for patients with hard-to-treat blood cancers,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “These data also advance our understanding of minimal residual disease, which we believe is a useful endpoint that may help identify patients more quickly who are in need of additional treatment.”
Four-Year Follow-Up Analysis of the Phase III CLL14 Study
This four-year post-hoc analysis of investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS) had a median follow-up of 52.4 months (interquartile range: 49.5-56.2 months). The fixed treatment duration (12 months) study indicated that the chemotherapy-free Venclexta plus Gazyva® (obinutuzumab) regimen had an estimated PFS rate of 74.0% vs 35.4% for Gazyva plus chlorambucil. Importantly, the time to next treatment (TTNT) was significantly longer among patients treated with the Venclexta plus Gazyva regimen versus the comparator (four-year TTNT 81.1% vs 59.9%; HR 0.46, 95% CI [0.32-0.65], p<0.0001). Abstract #S146, oral presentation.
Furthermore, 30 months after the end of treatment, 26.9% of the Venclexta-treated patients still had undetectable MRD (uMRD) compared with 3.2% of those treated with the comparator. Undetectable MRD, sometimes referred to as MRD-negativity, means that no cancer cells could be detected using a specific and highly sensitive test, and is defined as less than one cancer cell in 10,000 leukocytes. Undetectable MRD is emerging as a measure of disease response that may be useful to consider in treatment decision-making.
Common grade 3-4 adverse events with Venclexta and Gazyva at 28 months follow-up were low white blood cell count and infections.
Substudy from the Phase III MURANO Study
Results from this substudy suggested that increased prevalence of certain unfavorable genetic risk factors negatively impacted the MRD response of patients who were retreated with Venclexta plus Rituxan® (rituximab) after progression on treatment with that regimen. These data indicate the potential to tailor treatment approaches for patients with previously treated CLL based on genetic risk factors. Abstract #EP599, poster presentation.
Post-Hoc Analysis of the Phase III VIALE-A Study
Additionally, a post-hoc analysis from the Phase III VIALE-A study suggested the value of continued research to understand the role of MRD monitoring in AML. In the analysis, patients who achieved a composite complete remission and uMRD following treatment with Venclexta and azacitidine, a hypomethylating agent, had improved survival outcomes compared with those who were MRD-positive following treatment. The 12-month estimates for duration of response, overall survival and event-free survival for both groups are listed below:
Achieved composite complete
remission and uMRD
Did not achieve composite
complete remission and
Duration of response
81.2% (95% CI 69.3-88.9)
46.6% (95% CI 35.6-56.8)
94.0% (95% CI 84.7-97.7)
67.9% (95% CI 57.6-76.2)
83.2% (95% CI 71.6-90.3)
45.4% (95% CI 35.2-55.0)
Adverse events of grade ≥3 (MRD<10-3/MRD≥10-3) were febrile neutropenia (50%/43%), neutropenia (50%/35%) and thrombocytopenia (44%/44%), similar to the overall population. Abstract #S137, oral presentation.
Genentech is collaborating with regulatory authorities and others in the industry to advance understanding of MRD. The company continues to investigate Venclexta in a robust clinical development program, including in the Phase III CRISTALLO trial in previously untreated CLL, which uses MRD as a primary endpoint.
Venclexta is approved in the United States and European Union in combination with Rituxan for the treatment of adult patients with CLL who have received at least one prior therapy; in combination with Gazyva for the treatment of adult patients with previously untreated CLL; and as a monotherapy for the treatment of CLL in the presence of 17p deletion or TP53 mutation in people who are unsuitable for or have failed a B-cell receptor pathway inhibitor.
Venclexta is also approved in the United States in combination with azacitidine, decitabine or low dose cytarabine for the treatment of newly diagnosed AML in adults 75 years or older, or who have comorbidities that preclude use of intensive induction chemotherapy. In the European Union, Venclexta is approved in combination with a hypomethylating agent for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed AML who are ineligible for intensive chemotherapy.
About the CLL14 Study
CLL14 [NCT02242942] is a randomized Phase III study evaluating the combination of fixed-duration Venclexta® (venetoclax) plus Gazyva® (obinutuzumab) compared to Gazyva plus chlorambucil in adult patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and co-existing medical conditions. 432 patients with previously untreated CLL were randomly assigned to receive either a 12-month duration of Venclexta alongside six-month duration of Gazyva (Arm A) or six-month duration of Gazyva alongside 12-month duration of chlorambucil (Arm B). Arm A started with an initial dosing of Gazyva followed by a five-week Venclexta dose ramp-up to help reduce the risk of tumor burden. The primary endpoint of the study is investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS). Secondary endpoints included PFS assessed by independent review committee, minimal residual disease (MRD) status, overall response rate, complete response rate, and safety. The CLL14 study is being conducted in cooperation with the German CLL Study Group, headed by Michael Hallek, M.D., University of Cologne.
About the MURANO Study
MURANO [NCT02005471] is a Phase III open-label, international, multicenter, randomized study evaluating the efficacy and safety of fixed-duration Venclexta (venetoclax) in combination with Rituxan® (rituximab) compared to bendamustine in combination with Rituxan (BR). All treatments were of fixed duration. Following a five-week dose ramp-up schedule for Venclexta patients on the Venclexta plus Rituxan arm received six cycles of Venclexta plus Rituxan followed by Venclexta monotherapy for up to two years total. The study included 389 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), with or without 17p deletion, who had been previously treated with at least one line of therapy. A substudy from 2018 onward enrolled 34 relapsed or refractory CLL patients who progressed after initial treatment to receive Venclexta plus Rituxan as retreatment (n=25) or who crossed-over from the BR arm (n=9). The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival. Secondary endpoints included overall survival, overall response rate and complete response rate (with or without complete blood count recovery).
About the VIALE-A Study
VIALE-A [NCT02993523] is a Phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Venclexta® (venetoclax) plus azacitidine, a hypomethylating agent, compared to placebo with azacitidine, in 431 people with previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia who are ineligible for intensive chemotherapy. Two-thirds of patients (n=286) received 400 mg Venclexta daily, in combination with azacitidine, and the remaining patients (n=145) received placebo tablets in combination with azacitidine. Patients enrolled in the study had a range of mutational subtypes, including IDH1/2 and FLT3. VIALE-A met its primary and key secondary endpoints.
Venclexta is a first-in-class targeted medicine designed to selectively bind and inhibit the B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) protein. In some blood cancers and other tumors, BCL-2 builds up and prevents cancer cells from dying or self-destructing, a process called apoptosis. Venclexta blocks the BCL-2 protein and works to restore the process of apoptosis.
Venclexta is being developed by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. It is jointly commercialized by the companies in the United States and commercialized by AbbVie outside of the United States. Together, the companies are committed to research with Venclexta, which is currently being studied in clinical trials across several types of blood cancers.
In the United States, Venclexta has been granted five Breakthrough Therapy Designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): one for previously untreated CLL, two for relapsed or refractory CLL and two for previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia.
Venclexta is a prescription medicine used:
- to treat adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).
in combination with azacitidine, or decitabine, or low-dose cytarabine to treat adults with newly-diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who:
- are 75 years of age or older, or
- have other medical conditions that prevent the use of standard chemotherapy.
It is not known if Venclexta is safe and effective in children.
Important Safety Information
What is the most important information patients should know about Venclexta?
Venclexta can cause serious side effects, including:
Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause kidney failure, the need for dialysis treatment, and may lead to death. The patient’s doctor will do tests to check their risk of getting TLS before they start taking Venclexta. The patient will receive other medicines before starting and during treatment with Venclexta to help reduce the risk of TLS. The patient may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids into their vein.
The patient’s doctor will do blood tests to check for TLS when the patient first starts treatment and during treatment with Venclexta. It is important for patients to keep appointments for blood tests. Patients should tell their doctor right away if they have any symptoms of TLS during treatment with Venclexta, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, seizures, irregular heartbeat, dark or cloudy urine, unusual tiredness, or muscle or joint pain.
Patients should drink plenty of water during treatment with Venclexta to help reduce the risk of getting TLS.
Patients should drink 6 to 8 glasses (about 56 ounces total) of water each day, starting 2 days before the first dose on the day of the first dose of Venclexta, and each time a dose is increased.
The patient’s doctor may delay, decrease the dose, or stop treatment with Venclexta if the patient has side effects. When restarting Venclexta after stopping for 1 week or longer, the patient’s doctor may again check for the risk of TLS and change the patient’s dose.
What patients should not take Venclexta?
Certain medicines must not be taken when the patient first starts taking Venclexta and while the dose is being slowly increased because of the risk of increased TLS.
- Patients should tell their doctor about all the medicines they take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Venclexta and other medicines may affect each other causing serious side effects.
- Patients must not start new medicines during treatment with Venclexta without first talking with their doctor.
Before taking Venclexta, patients must tell their doctor about all of their medical conditions, including if they:
- Have kidney or liver problems.
- Have problems with body salts or electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, or calcium.
- Have a history of high uric acid levels in the blood or gout.
- Are scheduled to receive a vaccine. Patients should not receive a “live vaccine” before, during, or after treatment with Venclexta, until the patient’s doctor tells them it is okay. If the patient is not sure about the type of immunization or vaccine, the patient should ask their doctor. These vaccines may not be safe or may not work as well during treatment with Venclexta.
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Venclexta may harm an unborn baby. If the patient is able to become pregnant, the patient’s doctor should do a pregnancy test before the patient starts treatment with Venclexta, and the patient should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 30 days after the last dose of Venclexta. If the patient becomes pregnant or thinks they are pregnant, the patient should tell their doctor right away.
- Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Venclexta passes into the patient’s breast milk. Patients are instructed to not breastfeed during treatment with Venclexta and for 1 week after the last dose.
What to avoid while taking Venclexta:
Patients should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit, Seville oranges (often used in marmalades), or starfruit while they are taking Venclexta. These products may increase the amount of Venclexta in the patient’s blood.
What are the possible side effects of Venclexta?
Venclexta can cause serious side effects, including:
- Low white blood cell counts (neutropenia). Low white blood cell counts are common with Venclexta, but can also be severe. The patient’s doctor will do blood tests to check their blood counts during treatment with Venclexta and may pause dosing.
- Infections. Death and serious infections such as pneumonia and blood infection (sepsis) have happened during treatment with Venclexta. The patient’s doctor will closely monitor and treat the patient right away if they have a fever or any signs of infection during treatment with Venclexta.
Patients should tell their doctor right away if they have a fever or any signs of an infection during treatment with Venclexta.
The most common side effects of Venclexta when used in combination with obinutuzumab or rituximab or alone in people with CLL or SLL include low white blood cell count; low platelet count; low red blood cell count; diarrhea; nausea; upper respiratory tract infection; cough; muscle and joint pain; tiredness; and swelling of arms, legs, hands, and feet.
The most common side effects of Venclexta in combination with azacitidine or decitabine or low-dose cytarabine in people with AML include nausea; diarrhea; low platelet count; constipation; low white blood cell count; fever with low white blood cell count; tiredness; vomiting; swelling of arms, legs, hands, or feet; fever; infection in lungs; shortness of breath; bleeding; low red blood cell count; rash; stomach (abdominal) pain; infection in your blood; muscle and joint pain; dizziness; cough; sore throat; and low blood pressure.
Venclexta may cause fertility problems in males. This may affect the ability to father a child. Patients should talk to their doctor if they have concerns about fertility.
These are not all the possible side effects of Venclexta. Patients should call their doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch. Report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.
About Genentech in Hematology
For more than 20 years, Genentech has been developing medicines with the goal to redefine treatment in hematology. Today, we’re investing more than ever in our effort to bring innovative treatment options to people with diseases of the blood. For more information visit http://www.gene.com/hematology.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.