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CALQUENCE combination regimen demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival in 1st-line mantle cell lymphoma in ECHO Phase III trial

First BTK inhibitor to show favorable trend in overall survival vs. standard-of-care chemoimmunotherapy in this setting

Positive high-level results from an interim analysis of the ECHO Phase III trial showed AstraZeneca’s CALQUENCE® (acalabrutinib) in combination with standard-of-care chemoimmunotherapy, bendamustine and rituximab, demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) versus standard of care in previously untreated adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

A trend was observed in favor of CALQUENCE plus chemoimmunotherapy for the secondary endpoint of overall survival (OS). The OS data were not mature at the time of this analysis and the trial will continue to assess OS.

MCL is a rare and typically aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), often diagnosed as a late-stage disease, resulting when B-lymphocytes mutate into malignant cells within a region of the lymph node known as the mantle zone.1,2 It is estimated that there are more than 27,500 patients diagnosed with MCL worldwide.3,4

Michael Wang, MD, Puddin Clarke Endowed Professor, Director of Mantle Cell Lymphoma Program of Excellence, Co-Director of Clinical Trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, US and principal investigator in the trial, said: “These positive progression-free survival results from the ECHO Phase III trial could provide a new standard of care for patients with mantle cell lymphoma. Incorporating CALQUENCE into the first-line mantle cell lymphoma setting would give many more patients the opportunity to benefit from the robust efficacy and strong safety profile we’ve seen with this medicine.”

Susan Galbraith, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “These impactful results in mantle cell lymphoma show that bringing CALQUENCE to the first-line setting significantly delays disease progression and, for the first time, shows potential to extend survival. The improvement in progression-free survival together with the differentiated safety profile of CALQUENCE are both important as we strive to transform outcomes earlier in the course of disease treatment.”

The safety and tolerability of CALQUENCE was consistent with its known safety profile, and no new safety signals were identified.

The data will be presented at a forthcoming medical meeting and shared with global regulatory authorities.

As part of an extensive clinical development program, AstraZeneca is currently evaluating CALQUENCE alone and in combination for the treatment of multiple B-cell blood cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), MCL, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

CALQUENCE has been used to treat more than 80,000 patients worldwide and is approved for the treatment of CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) in the US, approved for CLL in the EU and many other countries worldwide and approved in Japan and China for relapsed or refractory CLL and SLL. CALQUENCE is also approved in the US, China and several other countries for the treatment of adult patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy. CALQUENCE is not currently approved for the treatment of MCL in Japan or the EU.


CALQUENCE is a Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor indicated for the treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) who have received at least one prior therapy.

This 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 also indicated for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).


Serious and Opportunistic Infections

Fatal and serious infections, including opportunistic infections, have occurred in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE.

Serious or Grade 3 or higher infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal) occurred in 19% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials, most often due to respiratory tract infections (11% of all patients, including pneumonia in 6%). These infections predominantly occurred in the absence of Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia, with neutropenic infection reported in 1.9% of all patients. Opportunistic infections in recipients of CALQUENCE have included, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus reactivation, fungal pneumonia, Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, Epstein-Barr virus reactivation, cytomegalovirus, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Consider prophylaxis in patients who are at increased risk for opportunistic infections. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection and treat promptly.


Fatal and serious hemorrhagic events have occurred in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE. Major hemorrhage (serious or Grade 3 or higher bleeding or any central nervous system bleeding) occurred in 3.0% of patients, with fatal hemorrhage occurring in 0.1% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials. Bleeding events of any grade, excluding bruising and petechiae, occurred in 22% of patients.

Use of antithrombotic agents concomitantly with CALQUENCE may further increase the risk of hemorrhage. In clinical trials, major hemorrhage occurred in 2.7% of patients taking CALQUENCE without antithrombotic agents and 3.6% of patients taking CALQUENCE with antithrombotic agents. Consider the risks and benefits of antithrombotic agents when co-administered with CALQUENCE. Monitor patients for signs of bleeding.

Consider the benefit-risk of withholding CALQUENCE for 3-7 days pre- and post-surgery depending upon the type of surgery and the risk of bleeding.


Grade 3 or 4 cytopenias, including neutropenia (23%), anemia (8%), thrombocytopenia (7%), and lymphopenia (7%), developed in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE. Grade 4 neutropenia developed in 12% of patients. Monitor complete blood counts regularly during treatment. Interrupt treatment, reduce the dose, or discontinue treatment as warranted.

Second Primary Malignancies

Second primary malignancies, including skin cancers and other solid tumors, occurred in 12% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials. The most frequent second primary malignancy was skin cancer, reported in 6% of patients. Monitor patients for skin cancers and advise protection from sun exposure.

Atrial Fibrillation and Flutter

Grade 3 atrial fibrillation or flutter occurred in 1.1% of 1029 patients treated with CALQUENCE, with all grades of atrial fibrillation or flutter reported in 4.1% of all patients. The risk may be increased in patients with cardiac risk factors, hypertension, previous arrhythmias, and acute infection. Monitor for symptoms of arrhythmia (eg, palpitations, dizziness, syncope, dyspnea) and manage as appropriate.


The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) of any grade in patients with relapsed or refractory MCL were anemia,* thrombocytopenia,* headache (39%), neutropenia,* diarrhea (31%), fatigue (28%), myalgia (21%), and bruising (21%). The most common Grade ≥3 non-hematological adverse reaction (reported in at least 2% of patients) was diarrhea (3.2%).

*Treatment-emergent decreases (all grades) of hemoglobin (46%), platelets (44%), and neutrophils (36%) were based on laboratory measurements and adverse reactions.

Dose reductions or discontinuations due to any adverse reaction were reported in 1.6% and 6.5% of patients, respectively. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) occurred in 4.8% of patients.

The most common adverse reactions (≥30%) of any grade in patients with CLL were anemia,* neutropenia,* thrombocytopenia,* headache, upper respiratory tract infection, and diarrhea.

*Treatment-emergent decreases (all grades) of hemoglobin, platelets, and neutrophils were based on laboratory measurements and adverse reactions.

In patients with previously untreated CLL exposed to CALQUENCE, fatal adverse reactions that occurred in the absence of disease progression and with onset within 30 days of the last study treatment were reported in 2% for each treatment arm, most often from infection. Serious adverse reactions were reported in 39% of patients in the CALQUENCE plus obinutuzumab arm and 32% in the CALQUENCE monotherapy arm, most often due to events of pneumonia (7% and 2.8%, respectively).

Adverse reactions led to CALQUENCE dose reduction in 7% and 4% of patients in the CALQUENCE plus obinutuzumab arm (N=178) and CALQUENCE monotherapy arm (N=179), respectively. Adverse events led to discontinuation in 11% and 10% of patients, respectively. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times ULN occurred in 3.9% and 2.8% of patients in the CALQUENCE combination arm and monotherapy arm, respectively.

In patients with relapsed/refractory CLL exposed to CALQUENCE, serious adverse reactions occurred in 29% of patients. Serious adverse reactions in >5% of patients who received CALQUENCE included lower respiratory tract infection (6%). Fatal adverse reactions within 30 days of the last dose of CALQUENCE occurred in 2.6% of patients, including from second primary malignancies and infection.

Adverse reactions led to CALQUENCE dose reduction in 3.9% of patients (N=154), dose interruptions in 34% of patients, most often due to respiratory tract infections followed by neutropenia, and discontinuation in 10% of patients, most frequently due to second primary malignancies followed by infection. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times ULN occurred in 1.3% of patients who received CALQUENCE.


Strong CYP3A Inhibitors: Avoid co-administration of CALQUENCE with a strong CYP3A inhibitor. If these inhibitors will be used short-term, interrupt CALQUENCE. After discontinuation of strong CYP3A inhibitor for at least 24 hours, resume previous dosage of CALQUENCE.

Moderate CYP3A Inhibitors: Reduce the dosage of CALQUENCE to 100 mg once daily when co-administered with a moderate CYP3A inhibitor.

Strong CYP3A Inducers: Avoid co-administration of CALQUENCE with a strong CYP3A inducer. If co-administration is unavoidable, increase the dosage of CALQUENCE to 200 mg approximately every 12 hours.


Based on findings in animals, CALQUENCE may cause fetal harm and dystocia when administered to a pregnant woman. There are no available data in pregnant women to inform the drug-associated risk. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus.

Pregnancy testing is recommended for females of reproductive potential prior to initiating CALQUENCE therapy. Advise female patients of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with CALQUENCE and for 1 week following the last dose of CALQUENCE.

It is not known if CALQUENCE is present in human milk. Advise lactating women not to breastfeed while taking CALQUENCE and for 2 weeks after the last dose.

Avoid use of CALQUENCE in patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh class C). No dosage adjustment of CALQUENCE is recommended in patients with mild (Child-Pugh class A) or moderate (Child-Pugh class B) hepatic impairment.

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information.


Mantle cell lymphoma

MCL is an uncommon subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.5 MCL comprises about 3-6% of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, with an annual incidence of 0.5 per 100,000 population in Western countries; in the US, it is estimated that approximately 4,000 new cases of MCL are diagnosed each year.5,6 While MCL patients initially respond to treatment, patients do tend to relapse.5


ECHO is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center Phase III trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of CALQUENCE plus bendamustine and rituximab compared to standard of care chemoimmunotherapy (bendamustine and rituximab) in adult patients at or over 65 years of age (n=598) with previously untreated MCL.7 In the experimental arms, patients were randomized 1:1 to receive either CALQUENCE or placebo administered orally twice per day, on days 1 and 2 of each 28 day treatment cycle, plus bendamustine on days 1 and 2 and rituximab on day 1. After six cycles of CALQUENCE or placebo in combination with bendamustine and rituximab, patients receive CALQUENCE or placebo plus maintenance rituximab for two years and then either CALQUENCE or placebo only until disease progression.7

The primary endpoint is PFS and key secondary endpoints include OS, overall response rate (ORR), duration of response (DoR) and time to response (TTR).7 The trial includes 27 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.7

The ECHO trial was conducted from 2017 to 2023 continuing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients with blood cancer remain at a disproportionately high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death compared to the general population.8


CALQUENCE (acalabrutinib) is a next-generation, selective inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). CALQUENCE binds covalently to BTK, thereby inhibiting its activity.9 In B cells, BTK signaling results in activation of pathways necessary for B-cell proliferation, trafficking, chemotaxis and adhesion.

AstraZeneca in hematology

AstraZeneca is pushing the boundaries of science to redefine care in hematology. We have expanded our commitment to patients with hematologic conditions, not only in oncology but also in rare diseases with the acquisition of Alexion, allowing us to reach more patients with high unmet needs. By applying our deep understanding of blood cancers, leveraging our strength in solid tumor oncology and delivering on Alexion’s pioneering legacy in complement science to provide innovative medicines for rare diseases, we are pursuing the end-to-end development of novel therapies designed to target underlying drivers of disease. Following AstraZeneca’s recent acquisition of Gracell Biotechnologies Inc., we have broadened our pipeline of innovative cell therapies with a differentiated manufacturing process to potentially further address hematologic malignancies.

By targeting hematologic conditions with high unmet medical needs, we aim to deliver innovative medicines and approaches to improve patient outcomes. Our goal is to help transform the lives of patients living with malignant, rare and other related hematologic diseases, shaped by insights from patients, caregivers and physicians to have the most meaningful impact.

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 catalyze 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 commercialization 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 social media @AstraZeneca.


  1. Lymphoma Research Foundation. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  2. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  3. GLOBOCAN. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  4. Lynch DT, Koya S, Acharya U, et al. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  5. Cheah C, Seymour J, Wang ML. Mantle cell lymphoma. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(11):1256-1269. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.63.5904.
  6. MD Anderson Cancer Center. What to know about mantle cell lymphoma. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  7. A Study of BR Alone Versus in Combination With Acalabrutinib in Subjects With Previously Untreated MCL. Available at: Accessed April 2024.
  8. Dube S, et al. Continued Increased Risk of COVID-19 Hospitalisation and Death in Immunocompromised Individuals Despite Receipt of ≥4 Vaccine Doses: Updated 2023 Results from INFORM, a Retrospective Health Database Study in England. Poster P0409 at ECCMID 2024
  9. Wu J, Zhang M, Liu D. Acalabrutinib (ACP-196): a selective second-generation BTK inhibitor. J Hematol Oncol. 2016;9(21).



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