A Study of Nemtabrutinib Plus Venetoclax vs Venetoclax + Rituximab (VR) in Second-line (2L) + Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (CLL/SLL) (MK-1026-010/BELLWAVE-010)

Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) logo

Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD)

Status and phase

Phase 3


Small-Cell Lymphoma
Lymphoma, Small Lymphocytic
Leukemia, Chronic Lymphocytic
Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell


Drug: Nemtabrutinib
Biological: Rituximab
Drug: Venetoclax

Study type


Funder types



2022-501560-17-00 (Other Identifier)
BELLWAVE-010 (Other Identifier)
MK-1026-010 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


The purpose of this study is to assess the safety and tolerability and to confirm the dose of nemtabrutinib in combination with venetoclax in participants with R/R CLL/SLL. The primary study hypotheses are that the combination of nemtabrutinib plus venetoclax is superior to VR with respect to progression-free survival (PFS) per 2018 International Workshop on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (iwCLL) criteria as assessed by blinded independent central review (BICR).


720 estimated patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Confirmed diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) and active disease clearly documented to initiate therapy.
  • Deletion (Del) (17p) status, tumor protein 53 (TP53) mutation status, immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IGHV) mutation status and Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK)-C481 mutation status results required before randomization for Part 2 participants only.
  • Relapsed or refractory to at least 1 prior available therapy.
  • Have at least 1 marker of disease burden.
  • Has an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 to 2 within 7 days before randomization.
  • Has a life expectancy of at least 3 months.
  • Has the ability to swallow and retain oral medication.
  • Participants who are hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive are eligible if they have received hepatitis B virus (HBV) antiviral therapy for at least 4 weeks and have undetectable HBV deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) viral load before randomization.
  • Participants with history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are eligible if HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) viral load is undetectable at screening.
  • Participants with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who meet ALL eligibility criteria.
  • Participants with adequate organ function with specimens collected within 7 days before the start of study intervention.
  • If capable of producing sperm, participant agrees to eliminate Nemtabrutinib: 12 days, Venetoclax: 1 month (30 days), Rituximab (rituximab biosimilar): not applicable; abstains from penile-vaginal intercourse as their preferred and usual lifestyle; OR uses prescribed contraception.
  • Participant assigned female sex at birth are eligible to participate if not pregnant or breastfeeding and are not a person of childbearing potential (POCBP) OR is a POCBP and uses a contraceptive method that is highly effective, has a negative highly sensitive pregnancy test, and abstains from breastfeeding.

Exclusion criteria

  • Has an active hepatitis B virus/ hepatitis C virus (HBV/HCV) infection.
  • Has gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction that may affect drug absorption.
  • Has a known additional malignancy that is progressing or has required active treatment within the past 3 years.
  • Has diagnosis of Richter Transformation or active central nervous system (CNS) involvement by CLL/SLL.
  • Has an active infection requiring systemic therapy, such as intravenous (IV) antibiotics, during screening.
  • HIV-infected participants with a history of Kaposi's sarcoma and/or Multicentric Castleman's Disease and/or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining opportunistic infection in the past 12 months before screening.
  • Has QT interval corrected (QTc) prolongation or other significant electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities.
  • Has a known allergy/sensitivity to nemtabrutinib or contraindication to venetoclax/rituximab (or rituximab biosimilar), or any of the excipients.
  • Has history of severe bleeding disorders (eg, hemophilia).
  • Has received prior systemic anticancer therapy within 5 half-lives or 4 weeks (if prior therapy was a monoclonal antibody) before randomization.
  • Has received prior B-cell lymphoma 2 inhibitor(s) (BCL2i) including venetoclax or Non-covalent Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor (BTKi).
  • Is currently being treated with p-glycoprotein (P-gp) substrates with a narrow therapeutic index, cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) strong or moderate inducers or CYP3A strong inhibitors.
  • Has received a live or live attenuated vaccine within 30 days before the first dose of study intervention.
  • Has received an investigational agent or has used an investigational device within 4 weeks before study intervention administration.
  • Has a known psychiatric or substance use disorder that would interfere with the participant's ability to cooperate with the requirements of the study.
  • Participants who have not adequately recovered from major surgery or have ongoing surgical complications.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

720 participants in 2 patient groups

Nemtabrutinib + Venetoclax
Experimental group
Participants will receive nemtrabrutinib oral tablets at specified doses daily starting at Cycle 1 Day 1 (C1D1) and venetoclax oral tablets at doses of 20 mg up to 400 mg daily starting at Cycle 2 Day 1 (C2D1) up to 2 years post C2D1 or until progressive disease (PD) or discontinuation. A cycle = 4 weeks.
Drug: Venetoclax
Drug: Nemtabrutinib
Venetoclax + Rituximab
Active Comparator group
Participants will receive venetoclax oral tablets at doses from 20 mg up to 400 mg daily starting at C1D1 on 4-week cycles up to 2 years and rituximab or biosimilar at 375 mg/m\^2 up to 500 mg/m2 intravenous infusion once per 28-day cycle starting at C2D1, for 6 total cycles. Treatment will continue until progressive disease (PD) or discontinuation.
Drug: Venetoclax
Biological: Rituximab

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Toll Free Number

Data sourced from

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