Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a primary cause of nonrelapse mortality and a major barrier to successful transplant outcomes. Itacitinib is a Janus kinase (JAK)1–selective inhibitor that has demonstrated efficacy in preclinical models of aGVHD. We report results from the first registered study of a JAK inhibitor in patients with aGVHD. This was an open-label phase 1 study enrolling patients aged $18 years with first HCT from any source who developed grade IIB to IVD aGVHD. Patients with steroid-naive or steroid-refractory aGVHD were randomized 1:1 to itacitinib 200 mg or 300 mg once daily plus corticosteroids. The primary endpoint was safety and tolerability; day 28 overall response rate (ORR) was the main secondary endpoint. Twenty-nine patients (200 mg, n 5 14; 300 mg, n 5 15) received $1 dose of itacitinib and were included in safety and efficacy assessments. One dose-limiting toxicity was reported (grade 3 thrombocytopenia attributed to GVHD progression in a patient receiving 300 mg itacitinib with preexisting thrombocytopenia). The most common nonhematologic treatment-emergent adverse event was diarrhea (48.3%, n 5 14); anemia occurred in 11 patients (38%). ORR on day 28 for all patients in the 200-mg and 300-mg groups was 78.6% and 66.7%, respectively. Day 28 ORR was 75.0% for patients with treatment-naive aGVHD and 70.6% in those with steroid-refractory aGVHD. All patients receiving itacitinib decreased corticosteroid use over time. In summary, itacitinib was well tolerated and demonstrated encouraging efficacy in patients with steroid-naive or steroid-refractory aGVHD, warranting continued clinical investigations. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT02614612.
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