We reported that PIM1 kinase is expressed in the lymphocytes of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid, is a dietary supplement and inhibits many kinases, including PIM1, in vitro. Under an Institutional Review Board-approved protocol, we performed an open-label, single-arm pilot study to evaluate the antitumor activity of quercetin in patients with CLL/SLL. Q-ForceTM chews were administered orally, 500 mg twice daily, for 3 months. Eligible patients had failed prior therapies, had had no other standard treatment, or refused other therapies. Response was assessed based on objective change in disease parameters. Patients were included if their lymphocyte counts were rising and ≥10,000/µL but not > 100,000/µL. Three patients received quercetin treatment. There was no toxicity. Two responded with stabilization of rising lymphocyte counts (p < 0.001 for each), which remained stable during their follow-up (5 and 11 months after cessation of treatment, respectively). The CLL cells in the nonresponder harbored a TP53 mutation. Although our data from this pilot translational study are based on a small sample, further studies of quercetin as a potential therapeutic agent in selected patients with CLL/SLL appear warranted.

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