A combination of venetoclax and rituximab being developed by AbbVie and Roche/Genentech significantly improved progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), shows data published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The results – from the Phase III Murano trial - show that after a median follow-up period of 23.8 months, PFS was significantly higher in patients taking venetoclax/rituximab (with 32 events of progression or death in 194 patients) than in the bendamustine–rituximab group (114 events in 195 patients).

Also, the two-year rates of progression-free survival were 84.9 percent and 36.3 percent, respectively.

On the safety side, the rate of grade 3 or 4 neutropenia was higher in the venetoclax–rituximab group than in the bendamustine–rituximab group, but the rates of grade 3 or 4 febrile neutropenia and infections or infestations were lower with venetoclax than with bendamustine, the researchers noted.

CLL, a slow‐growing blood cancer, is the most common type of leukaemia in the Western world.