VLA-4 activation mechanisms in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: clinical relevance in the new drug era

Funded by the “Direzione generale della ricerca e dell’innovazione in sanità” of the “Ministero della salute” under the Bando Ricerca Finalizzata anno 2016 programme. The project has awarded to the Molecular Hematology Group at ICGEB, headed by Dimitar Efremov.

The project received EUR 90K funding in collaboration with IRCCS CRO Aviano and University of Texas.

The integrin VLA-4 is expressed at high levels in about 40% of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cases and represents a negative prognostic factor. VLA-4 can efficiently bind its ligands when activated by several mechanisms, including those mediated by the B cell receptor (BCR). The purpose of this project is to challenge these findings in a clinical setting. To do so, the VLA-4 activation state, as measured in CLL cells either at constitutive level or induced by BCR triggering, will be tested for its power to predict response and/or development of resistance to the BCR inhibitor Ibrutinib in two different clinical trials. The effectiveness to impair the VLA-4 activation state in-vitro will be also used to test the potency of the main clinical grade BCR inhibitors (ibrutinib, fosfamatinib,idelalisib), thus providing the biological basis to design clinical trials combining different BCR inhibitors for VLA-4 expressing CLL.

Duration: 2018-2020

Donor/funding programme:

“Direzione generale della ricerca e dell’innovazione in sanità” of the “Ministero della salute”


IRCCS CRO Aviano; University of Texas