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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Oct 15;22(20):4095-102. Epub 2004 Sep 7.

Phase II study of denileukin diftitox for relapsed/refractory B-Cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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  • 1The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Box 429, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Denileukin diftitox is a fusion protein combining diphtheria toxin and interleukin-2 (IL-2) that targets tumor cells expressing the IL-2 receptor. Its efficacy has been shown in CD25+ cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, but not in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). A phase II study was performed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of denileukin diftitox for relapsed or refractory B-cell NHL.


Patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell NHL were eligible. Tumor CD25 expression was determined by immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry. Denileukin diftitox was administered intravenously at a dose of 18 microg/kg once daily for 5 days every 3 weeks, up to eight cycles.


Of the 45 patients assessable for response, 32 (71%) were refractory to the last chemotherapy treatment, and all were previously treated with rituximab. Three complete responses (6.7%) and eight partial responses (17.8%) were observed, for an overall response rate of 24.5%. Nine patients (20%) had stable disease. Objective response rates were similar in CD25+ (22%) and CD25- histologies (29%), as were stable disease rates (22% and 18%, respectively). For responding patients, the median time to treatment failure was 7 months, with a median follow-up in survivors of 18 months (range, 9 to 28 months), and the projected progression-free survival at 20 months was 24% (95% CI, 0% to 60%). Most toxicities were low-grade and transient.


Denileukin diftitox seems to be effective in relapsed or refractory, CD25+ and CD25- B-cell NHL and is well-tolerated at the dosage evaluated. Evaluation of denileukin diftitox in combination with other agents may be warranted.

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