The STELLAR trial: Finding new treatments for Richter’s syndrome

Chief investigator - Dr Anna Schuh, University of Oxford
STELLAR - A phase II randomised study of CHOP-R in combination with acalabrutinib compared to CHOP-R followed by acalabrutinib at disease progression for patients with newly diagnosed Richter’s syndrome
Award start date: 19 Jun 2017
Recruitment start date: 01 Nov 2018
Award duration: 5 years (60 months)

Richter’s syndrome (RS) happens when chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common blood cancer world-wide, transforms into an aggressive blood cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which is very difficult to treat. While RS is relatively uncommon, the number of people with RS is growing because advances in the treatment of CLL mean that more people are living long enough for RS to develop. Sadly, people with RS have a short life expectancy - usually a few months after diagnosis.

Currently, RS is treated with a therapy called CHOP-R, a combination of a targeted drug, a steroid, and three chemotherapy drugs. While people with RS do respond to this treatment, they may not survive very long, so the researchers are looking for ways to improve the way we treat RS. They plan to compare how well people with RS fare on standard CHOP-R treatment compared to CHOP-RA treatment (CHOP-R followed by another targeted drug called acalabrutinib). Based on their earlier research, they believe that more people will respond to this treatment and also that the response will be longer compared to CHOP-R alone.

The aims of the trial are to:

  • See how well RS responds to CHOP-RA compared to CHOP-R.
  • Find out the length of time that passes before the RS gets worse in each treatment.

You may be eligible to join this trial if:

  • You have CLL and you have been newly diagnosed with DLBCL-type Richter’s syndrome.
  • You have not yet been treated with anthracycline.
  • You are at least 16 years old.