A study which tracked the long-term outcomes of blood cancer patients involved in the MURANO clinical trial has shown enduring gains in both progression-free and overall survival.

MURANO was a Phase III clinical trial which showed a novel treatment combination – the new drug venetoclax plus rituximab – was superior to the then standard-of-care (bendustamine plus rituximab).

When the patients involved were followed-up four years later, those who received the venetoclax combination were doing significantly better - with more than half (57.3%) yet to show any worsening of their blood cancer.

This compared to progression-free survival of just 4.6% for those who received the bendustamine combination. There was also a significant gain in overall survival – at 85.3% for the venetoclax combination versus 66.8%.

“These are striking results which confirm the benefits seen in the MURANO trial are long-term and can provide many patients with enduring cancer control,” says Professor John Seymour, who is Director of the integrated Haematology Department of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“The follow-up study has also given us important insights into the best next-line treatment for patients whose cancers did progress, as we saw improved outcomes from either the drug ibrutinib or re-treatment with venetoclax.”

A paper describing the follow-up study in detail was published this week by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The 389 patients enrolled in the MURANO trial all had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) – a blood cancer that is considered incurable and so long-term management is clinical approach.

Patients in the trial had CLL that had relapsed or had developed resistance to an earlier treatment, and they were randomised to receive either combination.

The MURANO trial, and now the follow-up study, were both led by Melbourne researchers. Venetoclax is also notable as the first drug to progress from discovery and basic research in Melbourne to now being listed on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and in use globally, to treat certain blood cancers.

See the paper – titled “Venetoclax Plus Rituximab in Relapsed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: 4-Year Results and Evaluation of Impact of Genomic Complexity and Gene Mutations From the MURANO Phase III Study” – in full here: https://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.20.00948

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Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally and is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. We have over 2,500 staff, including more than 650 laboratory and clinical researchers, all focused on providing better treatments, better care and potential cures for cancer.