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Keywords:

  • chronic lymphocytic leukaemia;
  • consolidation;
  • antibody therapy;
  • minimal residual disease;
  • clinical trials

Summary

Alemtuzumab has shown considerable activity in untreated and relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. We report our long-term experience in 21 patients within a randomized phase III trial investigating the role of alemtuzumab for consolidation therapy after first-line fludarabine ± cyclophosphamide, which was stopped prematurely due to severe infections. However, after a median follow-up of 48 months, progression-free survival was significantly prolonged for patients receiving alemtuzumab consolidation compared to those with no further treatment (P = 0·004). Minimal residual disease (MRD) levels were persistently reduced after consolidation. Therefore, despite toxicity, MRD reduction by alemtuzumab consolidation translates into a significantly improved long-term clinical outcome.