New FDA-Approved Therapy Is A Breakthrough For Blood Cancer Patients 

Leukemia awarenessThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration today [April 28, 2017] approved Rydapt (midostaurin) for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who have a specific genetic mutation called FLT3, in combination with chemotherapy. The drug is approved for use with a companion diagnostic, the LeukoStrat CDx FLT3 Mutation Assay, which is used to detect the FLT3 mutation in patients with AML.

AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that forms in the bone marrow and results in an increased number of white blood cells in the bloodstream. The National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately 19,930 people would be diagnosed with AML in 2016 and 10,430 were projected to die of the disease.

“Rydapt is the first targeted therapy to treat patients with AML, in combination with chemotherapy,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence. “The ability to detect the gene mutation with a diagnostic test means doctors can identify specific patients who may benefit from this treatment.”

Rydapt is a kinase inhibitor that works by blocking several enzymes that promote cell growth. If the FLT3 mutation is detected in blood or bone marrow samples using the LeukoStrat CDx FLT3 Mutation Assay, the patient may be eligible for treatment with Rydapt in combination with chemotherapy.

The safety and efficacy of Rydapt for patients with AML were studied in a randomized trial of 717 patients who had not been treated previously for AML. In the trial, patients who received Rydapt in combination with chemotherapy lived longer than patients who received chemotherapy alone, although a specific median survival rate could not be reliably estimated. In addition, patients who received Rydapt in combination with chemotherapy in the trial went longer (median 8.2 months) without certain complications (failure to achieve complete remission within 60 days of starting treatment, progression of leukemia or death) than patients who received chemotherapy alone (median three months).