AbstractThe phase 2 CLL2-BAAG trial tested the measurable residual disease (MRD)–guided triple combination of acalabrutinib, venetoclax, and obinutuzumab after optional bendamustine debulking in 45 patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL; 1 patient was excluded from the analysis because of a violation of exclusion criteria). MRD was measured by flow cytometry (FCM; undetectable MRD <10–4) in peripheral blood (PB) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) using digital droplet polymerase chain reaction of variable-diversity-joining (VDJ) rearrangements and CLL-related mutations in plasma. MRD recurrence was defined as detectable ctDNA and/or MRD ≥10–4 after achieving both undetectable MRD (uMRD) and undetectable ctDNA. The median number of previous treatments was 1 (range, 1-4); 18 patients (40%) had received a Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor (BTKi) and/or venetoclax before inclusion, 14 of 44 (31.8%) had TP53 aberrations, and 34 (75.6%) had unmutated IGHV. With a median observation time of 36.3 months and all patients off-treatment for a median of 21.9 months, uMRD <10–4 in PB was achieved in 42 of the 45 patients (93.3%) at any time point, including 17 of 18 (94.4%) previously exposed to venetoclax/BTKi and 13 of 14 (92.9%) with TP53 aberrations. The estimated 3-year progression-free and overall survival rates were 85.0% and 93.8%, respectively. Overall, 585 paired FCM/ctDNA samples were analyzed and 18 MRD recurrences (5 with and 13 without clinical progression) occurred after the end of treatment. Twelve samples were first detected by ctDNA, 3 by FCM, and 3 synchronously. Patients with earlier detection of ctDNA appeared to have a genetically higher risk of disease. In conclusion, time-limited MRD-guided acalabrutinib, venetoclax, and obinutuzumab achieved deep remissions in almost all patients with relapsed/refractory CLL. The addition of ctDNA-based analyses to FCM MRD assessment seems to improve early detection of relapses. This trial was registered at www.ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT03787264.

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