Treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults remains a challenge, as the delivery of intensive chemotherapeutic regimens in this population is less feasible than it is in the pediatric population. This has led to higher rates of treatment-related toxicity as well as lower overall survival in the adult population. Over the past several years, a host of novel therapies (eg, immunotherapy and targeted therapies) with better tolerability than traditional chemotherapy are now being introduced into the relapsed/refractory population with very encouraging results. Additionally, insights into how to choose effective therapies for patients while minimizing drug toxicity through pharmacogenomics and the use of minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring to escalate/de-escalate therapy have enhanced our ability to reduce treatment-related toxicity. This has led to the design of a number of clinical trials which incorporate both novel therapeutics as well as MRD-directed treatment pathways into the frontline setting. The use of increasingly personalized treatment strategies for specific disease subsets combined with standardized and rapid molecular diagnostic testing in the initial diagnosis and frontline treatment of ALL will hopefully lead to further improvements in survival for our adult patients.
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