AstraZeneca advances ambition to redefine care for blood cancer at ASH 2021

5 November 2021 07:00 GMT

Calquence shows durable efficacy and favourable tolerability vs. standards of care across multiple analyses in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

New Calquence tablet formulation will potentially expand eligible patient population with comparable efficacy and safety to current capsules

Emerging pipeline will also demonstrate promise of inducing deeper patient responses using novel combinations for hard-to-treat blood cancers

AstraZeneca will present new data underscoring its commitment to transforming haematologic cancer care at the 63rd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition, 11 to 14 December 2021.

More than 25 abstracts will feature data across the Company’s haematology portfolio and pipeline, including new analyses from the Calquence (acalabrutinib) Phase III programme such as an oral presentation of three-year follow-up data from the ASCEND Phase III trial in relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Overall, data will span over 10 types of blood cancers and related conditions with a focus on CLL, mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and acute myeloid leukaemia.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, said: “Our robust Calquence data at ASH will include an important new formulation designed to expand the pool of patients who may benefit from Calquence. Moreover, data from three Phase III trials will show the sustained efficacy and safety of Calquence, which is central to our commitment to prioritise the patient experience while providing long-term control of the disease in those with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.”

Anas Younes, Senior Vice President, Haematology R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “Testing new ways of overcoming drug resistance and continually pushing for better and deeper responses for patients are core focus areas of our early haematology portfolio. The preclinical data we are presenting at this year’s ASH meeting for capivasertib and AZD4573 add to the emerging body of evidence showing the potential for new approaches to become the cornerstones of tomorrow’s combination therapies for hard-to-treat blood cancers.”

AstraZeneca’s commitment to putting CLL patients first

  • A risk-benefit analysis showing quality-adjusted time without symptoms or toxicity (Q-TWiST) from the ELEVATE-RR and ASCEND trials in relapsed or refractory CLL will report the difference between Calquence and either ibrutinib or the combination of rituximab with idelalisib or bendamustine, balancing risk (toxicity) and benefit (prolonged survival without symptoms of progression or adverse events)
  • Data introducing a maleate tablet formulation of Calquence will establish bioequivalence to the current capsule and would enable co-administration with proton pump inhibitors or via nasogastric tube for patients with swallowing challenges, offering an opportunity to provide Calquence to patients for whom it was previously not an option

Further analyses from Calquence Phase III trial programme reinforce long-term safety and efficacy for patients with CLL

  • An oral presentation will show durable efficacy for Calquence over three years in relapsed or refractory CLL from the ASCEND trial, evaluating the treatment versus investigator’s choice of rituximab combined with either idelalisib or bendamustine
  • A sub-analysis from the head-to-head ELEVATE-RR trial for Calquence versus ibrutinib in relapsed or refractory CLL will further characterise adverse events related to Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibition
  • A matching-adjusted indirect comparison using data from the ELEVATE-TN trial will compare the safety profile of Calquence alone or in combination with obinutuzumab to either ibrutinib monotherapy or venetoclax in combination with obinutuzumab

Emerging pipeline molecules show therapeutic potential in novel combinations

  • Preclinical data will be presented showing that capivasertib (AZD5363), an AKT inhibitor being evaluated in a number of solid and haematological tumours, showed significant activity in murine DLBCL models when combined with venetoclax. This data continues to broaden our understanding of the role of AKT inhibitors in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL). Capivasertib monotherapy is being explored in sub-sets of relapsed or refractory B-cell NHL in the CAPITAL Phase II trial
  • Additionally, new data will demonstrate AZD4573, a highly selective and potent cyclin dependent kinase 9 inhibitor from AstraZeneca’s cell death portfolio, effectively induces apoptosis in vivo in relapsed or refractory MCL xenograft models both alone and when combined with Calquence

Key AstraZeneca presentations during the 63rd ASH Annual Meetingi

Lead author

Abstract title

Presentation details

Calquence (acalabrutinib)


Jurczak, W

Three-Year Follow-Up of the ASCEND Trial Investigating Acalabrutinib vs Rituximab plus Idelalisib or Bendamustine in Relapsed/Refractory Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Abstract # 393

Oral Session: 642. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Clinical and Epidemiological I

12 December 2021

10:00 ET

Location: Room B401-B402

Seymour, JF

Characterization of Bruton Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (BTKi)-Related Adverse Events in a Head-to-Head Trial of Acalabrutinib Versus Ibrutinib in Previously Treated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Abstract # 3721

Poster Session: 642. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Clinical and Epidemiological: Poster III

13 December 2021

18:00-20:00 ET

Location: Hall B5

Sharma, S

New Acalabrutinib Formulation Enables Co-administration with Proton Pump Inhibitors and Dosing in Patients Unable to Swallow Capsules (ELEVATE-PLUS)

Abstract # 4365

Online only

Davids, MS

MAJIC: A Phase 3 Prospective, Multicenter, Randomized, Open-Label Trial of Acalabrutinib plus Venetoclax versus Venetoclax plus Obinutuzumab in Previously Untreated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma

Abstract # 1553

Poster Session: 642. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Clinical and Epidemiological: Poster I

11 December 2021

17:30-19:30 ET

Location: Room B5

Davids, MS

Matching-Adjusted Indirect Treatment Comparison (MAIC) of Acalabrutinib Alone or in Combination With Obinutuzumab Versus Ibrutinib or Venetoclax Plus Obinutuzumab in Patients With Treatment-naïve Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Abstract # 2633

Poster Session: 642. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Clinical and Epidemiological: Poster II

12 December 2021

18:00-20:00 ET

Location: Room B5

Seymour, JF

A Quality-Adjusted Survival (Q-TWiST) Analysis to Assess Benefit-Risk of Acalabrutinib Versus Idelalisib/Bendamustine Plus Rituximab or Ibrutinib Among Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Patients

Abstract # 3722

Poster Session: 642. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Clinical and Epidemiological: Poster III

13 December 2021

18:00-20:00 ET

Location: Room B5

Roschewski, M

Phase 2 Study of Acalabrutinib Window Prior to Frontline Therapy in Untreated Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma: Preliminary Results and Correlatives of Response to Acalabrutinib

Abstract # 524

Oral Session: 626. Aggressive Lymphomas Prospective Therapeutic Trials: Novel Agents and Combinations

12 December 2021

16:45 ET

Location: Thomas Murphy Ballroom 1-2

Capivasertib (AZD5363)


Willis, B

Combination benefit of capivasertib and venetoclax in preclinical models of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

Abstract # 802

Poster Session: 802. Chemical Biology and Experimental Therapeutics: Poster I

11 December 2021

17:30-19:30 ET

Location: Room B5



Roderick, J

AZD4573 effectively induces apoptosis in r/r MCL as a monotherapy or in combination with acalabrutinib

Abstract # 605

Poster Session: 605. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Lymphoid Neoplasms: Poster II

12 December 2021

18:00-20:00 ET

Location: Room B5

i28 company-sponsored or supported abstracts will be presented at ASH 2021.


Calquence (acalabrutinib) is a next-generation, selective inhibitor of BTK. It binds covalently to BTK, thereby inhibiting its activity.1,2 In B-cells, BTK signalling results in activation of pathways necessary for B-cell proliferation, trafficking, chemotaxis, and adhesion.1

Calquence is approved for the treatment of CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) in the US, approved for CLL in the EU and several other countries worldwide, and approved in Japan for relapsed or refractory CLL and SLL. A Phase I trial is currently underway in Japan for the treatment of front-line CLL.

In the US and several other countries, Calquence is also approved for the treatment of adult patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy. The US MCL indication is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. Calquence is not currently approved for the treatment of MCL in Europe or Japan.

As part of an extensive clinical development programme, AstraZeneca and Acerta Pharma are currently evaluating Calquence in more than 20 company-sponsored clinical trials. Calquence is being evaluated for the treatment of multiple B-cell blood cancers including CLL, MCL, DLBCL, Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia, follicular lymphoma and other haematologic malignancies.

AstraZeneca in haematology
AstraZeneca is pushing the boundaries of science to redefine care in haematology. Applying our deep understanding of blood cancers and leveraging our strength in solid tumour oncology, we are driving the development of novel therapies designed to target underlying drivers of disease across six scientific platforms.

By addressing blood cancers with high unmet medical needs, our aim is to deliver innovative medicines and approaches to healthcare services that have a meaningful impact on patients and caregivers, transforming the haematologic cancer care experience.

AstraZeneca in oncology
AstraZeneca is leading a revolution in oncology with the ambition to provide cures for cancer in every form, following the science to understand cancer and all its complexities to discover, develop and deliver life-changing medicines to patients.

The Company’s focus is on some of the most challenging cancers. It is through persistent innovation that AstraZeneca has built one of the most diverse portfolios and pipelines in the industry, with the potential to catalyse changes in the practice of medicine and transform the patient experience.

AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer care and, one day, eliminate cancer as a cause of death.

AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

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1. CALQUENCE (acalabrutinib) [U.S. prescribing information]. Wilmington, DE; AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP; 2019.
2. Wu J, et al. Acalabrutinib (ACP-196): a selective second-generation BTK inhibitor. J Hematol Oncol. 2016;9(21).


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