Nelarabine (506U78) is a soluble pro-drug of 9-β-D- arabinofuranosylguanine (ara-G), a deoxyguanosine derivative. We treated 26 patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and 13 with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-LBL) with nelarabine. All patients were refractory to at least one multiagent regimen or had relapsed after achieving a complete remission. Nelarabine was administered on an alternate day schedule (days 1, 3, and 5) at 1.5 g/m2/day. Cycles were repeated every 22 days. The median age was 34 years (range, 16-66 years); 32 (82%) patients were male. The rate of complete remission was 31% (95% confidence interval [CI], 17%, 48%) and the overall response rate was 41% (95% CI, 26%, 58%). The principal toxicity was grade 3 or 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, occurring in 37% and 26% of patients, respectively. There was only one grade 4 adverse event of the nervous system, which was a reversible depressed level of consciousness. The median disease-free survival (DFS) was 20 weeks (95% CI, 11, 56), and the median overall survival was 20 weeks (95% CI, 13, 36). The 1-year overall survival was 28% (95% CI, 15%, 43%). Nelarabine is well tolerated and has significant antitumor activity in relapsed or refractory T-ALL and T-LBL.
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