Relapses in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are a result of quiescent leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in marrow stromal niches, where they resist chemotherapy. LSCs employ CXCL12/CXCR4 to home toward protective marrow niches. Heparin disrupts CXCL12-mediated sequestration of cells in the marrow. CX-01 is a low-anticoagulant heparin derivative. In this pilot study, we combined CX-01 with chemotherapy for the treatment of AML. Induction consisted of cytarabine and idarubicin (7 + 3) with CX-01. Twelve patients were enrolled (median age, 56 years; 3 women). Three, 5, and 4 patients had good-, intermediate-, and poor-risk disease, respectively. Day 14 bone marrows were available on 11 patients and were aplastic in all without detectable leukemia. Eleven patients (92%) had morphologic complete remission after 1 induction (CR1). Eight patients were alive at a median follow-up of 24 months (4 patients in CR1). Three patients received an allogeneic stem cell transplant in CR1. Median disease-free survival was 14.8 months. Median overall survival was not attained at the maximum follow-up time of 29.4 months. No CX-01-associated serious adverse events occurred. Median day to an untransfused platelet count of at least 20×109/L was 21. CX-01 is well tolerated when combined with intensive therapy for AML and appears associated with enhanced count recovery and treatment efficacy.
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