Professor Elias Jabbour

Section Chief, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Lifetime Achievement International Track

Professor Elias Jabbour is known for his considerable contributions to the science of Leukemia management, with a clinical mission is to improve the outcome of patients suffering from acute leukemia in general and acute lymphocytic leukemia in particular (ALL). As a hematologist and oncologist, Prof. Jabbour faces challenges and unmet needs in this field almost every day, and his academic career as a clinical investigator is thus devoted to tackle these challenges.

As the section chief of ALL in the Leukemia Department at MD Anderson, Prof. Jabbour has designed more than a dozen clinical trials assessing new combinations of treatments for the management of de novo ALL, Philadelphia (Ph)-positive ALL, elderly ALL, and relapsed/refractory disease. Of note, he developed a protocol that has shown significant improvements in survival rates for patients with Ph-positive ALL. Historically, these patients have poor outcomes, with a one-year survival rate of less than 10%. By combining H-CVAD chemotherapy with ponatinib, a new and potent TKI, the 3-year survival rate of these patients has increased to 76% and the 5-year rate to 71% (historically around 40%). This work was published in Lancet Oncology 2015 and recently updated in Lancet Hematology 2018. Prof. Jabbour and his team showed that the outcomes of these patients can be improved through the suppression  of the T315I clone, present in up to 25% of patients at baseline (detected by next generation sequencing [NGS]) and  universally resistant to all TKIs except ponatinib, and by the induction of a complete molecular response, and their findings are challenging the current notion of the need of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (ASCT) in first remission. This new regimen may become a new standard of care for adult patients with this disease.

Prof. Jabbour is currently leading a confirmatory multi-center Phase III trial in patients with newly diagnosed Ph-positive ALL, and investigating an innovative strategy combining new monoclonal antibodies such as inotuzumab ozogamicin, a conjugated anti-CD22 antibody, and blinatumomab, with minimal chemotherapy. This combination has proved to be safe and more effective than previous standards of care.  So far, with more than 70 patients treated, the median survival is doubled compared with a historical series. These types of combination regimens will likely become the new standards of care in the near future. Furthermore, Prof. Jabbour is evaluating new combinations of targeted therapies plus chemotherapy with the aim to minimize toxicities and eradicate minimal residual disease, thereby increasing cure rates of adult patients with ALL to the high level achieved in pediatric patients.

Prof. Jabbour was born in Lebanon, where he received his early medical education at St. Joseph University, followed later by the University of Paris.