Treatment with ibrutinib in patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation may improve graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) benefit—with a high response rate—without leading to the development of graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), according to a study published in Blood. 1

Researchers evaluated data from 27 patients with relapsed disease and who underwent allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation followed by ibrutinib salvage therapy. Among these patients, 16 had achieved an overall response rate of 87.5%.

None of these patients developed GVHD upon initiation of ibrutinib.

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“Our results show that ibrutinib selectively targets pre-germinal B cells and depletes Th2 helper cells,” the authors note. “Furthermore, these effects persisted after drug discontinuation.”

RELATED: Ibrutinib Linked With Favorable Survival, High Response Rate in CLL

Upon U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of ibrutinib, the researchers observed 11 patients who were treated at Stanford University, 7 of whom achieved a complete response and 3 who achieved a partial response.


  1. Ryan CE, Sahaf B, Logan AC, et al. Ibrutinib efficacy and tolerability in patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia following allogeneic HCT. Blood. 2016 Nov 1. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-06-715284 [Epub ahead of print]