Relapse after allogeneic progenitor cell transplant is associated with a poor prognosis for patients with advanced leukemia, with few curative options available. Use of novel chemotherapeutic agents with limited toxicity is warranted. We investigated the role of decitabine, a pyrimidine analogue with significant anti-leukemic effect and limited toxicity, in this setting. Fourteen patients with advanced acute leukemia or transformed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who had failed previous allogeneic transplant were treated. Decitabine at doses of 100 mg/m2 to 150 mg/m2 given every 12 h for 5 days was followed by infusion of stem cells from the original donor 2 to 5 days after the completion of chemotherapy. Dose of decitabine was escalated in cohorts of three patients based on the modified Fibonacci scheme. The primary study end-point was assessment of the toxicity of the regimen with secondary endpoints of response and survival. Eight patients responded with either a complete remission or partial hematological remission (absence of blasts in peripheral blood and bone marrow but with platelet count < 100 × 109/l). Toxicity was limited with no grade 3 or 4 toxicity directly attributable to the treatment. The median survival for all patients was 190 days (range 11 to 1215+ days). Decitabine at doses of 100 mg/m2 to 150 mg/m2 given every 12 h for 5 days, followed by stem cell infusion from the original donor was well tolerated, and was associated with acceptable myelosuppression. Current response data should encourage further study of this drug, either alone or in combination with other agents, for treatment of relapsed acute leukemia after an allogeneic transplant.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes