FLT3 inhibitors in acute myeloid leukaemia: assessment of clinical effectiveness, adverse events and future research-a systematic review and meta-analysis

S Majothi, D Adams, J Loke, S P Stevens, K Wheatley, J S Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is the most frequent mutation in AML. With two FLT3 inhibitors recently approved by the FDA (midostaurin and gilteritinib), there is a need to evaluate these targeted agents.

PURPOSE: To assess the clinical effectiveness of FLT3 inhibitors in AML patients.

METHODS: Standard systematic review methods were utilised. Searches were conducted to July 2020 for completed and in-progress randomised controlled trials of FLT3 inhibitors in AML. A fixed-effect meta-analysis was undertaken.

RESULTS: Eight completed trials involving 2656 patients and assessing five different FLT3 inhibitors (sorafenib, lestaurtinib, midostaurin, gilteritinib and quizartinib) were included. The pooled results were as follows (FLT3 inhibitor/control): overall survival hazard ratio (HR) = 0.83 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75 to 0.92, p = 0.0005), event-free survival HR = 0.85 (95% CI 0.77 to 0.94, p = 0.002), relapse-free survival HR = 0.76 (95% CI 0.64 to 0.90, p = 0.001), complete remission relative risk (RR) = 1.11 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.22. p = 0.05) and 60-day mortality RR = 1.04 (95% CI 0.77 to 1.40, p = 0.79). Relative risk of grade 3 and above vascular, dermatological, respiratory and hepatobiliary adverse events were found to be statistically significantly higher in the FLT3 inhibitor group compared to control, but the actual numbers of events were relatively small. Nineteen ongoing trials are still in progress, only one of which specifically targets older patients with AML.

CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence to support the use of FLT3 inhibitors in patients with AML, but more data is needed to verify the optimum use of the drugs regarding type of inhibitor, disease stage and patient characteristics, not only in relation to disease control, but adverse events and quality of life. There are a large number of ongoing trials; therefore, the results of this review are not a fait accompli; thus, is it recommended that the review be updated in a couple of years' time. Given the challenges in extracting the complete data set required to assess clinical effectiveness, it is highly recommended that ongoing and future trials improve transparency and consistency of reporting of all trial outcomes, particularly disease control and adverse events, to enable a global clinical effectiveness assessment.


Original languageEnglish
Article number285
Pages (from-to)285
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2020


  • AML
  • Adverse events
  • FLT3 inhibitors
  • Gilteritinib
  • Meta-analysis
  • Midostaurin
  • Quizartinib
  • Sorafenib
  • Survival
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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