Recently, the FDA approved ruxolitinib (Jakafi®, Incyte Corporation), a JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor, for the treatment of steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). A potentially life-threatening condition, GVHD is a complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), a treatment for hematologic malignancies that is administered following high-intensity chemotherapy or radiation. In this interview with i3 Health, Corey S. Cutler, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Medical Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the importance of the ruxolitinib approval for patients with GVHD.
Can you comment on the significance of the FDA's approval of ruxolitinib for steroid-refractory acute GVHD?
Corey S. Cutler, MD, MPH, FRCPC: Clearly the transplant community is very pleased to have this first drug approved for steroid-resistant GVHD. We all hope that this is the first of several drugs that we will have access to for the treatment of acute GVHD.
How does ruxolitinib compare with other treatment options for steroid-refractory acute GVHD?
Dr. Cutler: At the moment, we need to consider ruxolitinib as a standard of care in this situation. There are currently no comparative trials involving ruxolitinib; we eagerly await the results of the REACH-2 trial comparing ruxolitinib to best available care in patients with steroid-refractory acute GVHD.
How do you see the treatment of GVHD evolving? What are the next research developments on the horizon?
Dr. Cutler: There are several exciting compounds in development. Advances in the diagnosis and prognostication could lead to improved outcomes as well.
About Dr. Cutler
Corey S. Cutler, MD, MPH, FRCPC, is the Medical Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program and the Director of Clinical Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. An Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Cutler developed a strategy to prevent acute GVHD using the novel immunosuppressant sirolimus, which has been included in the standard-of-care regimen at several centers nationally and internationally. He is also focused on developing novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of chronic GVHD. Dr. Cutler has co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications in various academic journals, and he currently serves on the editorial board for Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and American Journal of Hematology.
Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker's own and do not necessarily represent those of i3 Health.