Our objective was to evaluate minimal residual disease (MRD) at the end of induction treatment with chemoimmunotherapy as a surrogate end point for progression-free survival (PFS) in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) based on 3 randomized, phase 3 clinical trials ( ClinicalTrials.gov identifiers NCT00281918, NCT00769522, and NCT02053610). MRD was measured in peripheral blood (PB) from treatment-naïve patients in the CLL8, CLL10, and CLL11 clinical trials, and quantified by 4-color flow cytometry or allele-specific oligonucleotide real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A meta-regression model was developed to predict treatment effect on PFS using treatment effect on PB-MRD. PB-MRD levels were measured in 393, 337, and 474 patients from CLL8, CLL10, and CLL11, respectively. The model demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between treatment effect on PB-MRD and treatment effect on PFS. As the difference between treatment arms in PB-MRD response rates increased, a reduction in the risk of progression or death was observed; for each unit increase in the (log) ratio of MRD – rates between arms, the log of the PFS hazard ratio decreased by –0.188 (95% confidence interval, –0.321 to –0.055; P = .008). External model validation on the REACH trial and sensitivity analyses confirm the robustness and applicability of the surrogacy model. Our surrogacy model supports use of PB-MRD as a primary end point in randomized clinical trials of chemoimmunotherapy in CLL. Additional CLL trial data are required to establish a more precise quantitative relationship between MRD and PFS, and to support general applicability of MRD surrogacy for PFS across diverse patient characteristics, treatment regimens, and different treatment mechanisms of action.
Lymphoid Neoplasia, Clinical Trials and Observations