Conference Coverage

CAR T in DLBCL: Liso-cel has ‘remarkable’ efficacy in cohort



– The CD19–directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell product lisocabtagene maraleucel (liso-cel, JCAR017) produced durable responses in poor-prognosis patients with relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), follow-up results of a phase 1 trial show.

Nearly 90% of DLBCL patients who achieved complete response as their best response on liso-cel were alive at 1 year in the study, according to investigator Jeremy S. Abramson, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.

That result is “far superior to what we would have anticipated with conventional therapies in a largely chemorefractory DLBCL population,” Dr. Abramson said at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The new data on liso-cel come on the heels of a second approval of a CAR T-cell therapy for DLBCL, noted Caron Jacobson, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

Axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta) was approved in October 2017 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas, including DLBCL. In May 2018, tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) received its second FDA approval to treat relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas, including DLBCL.

CAR T-cell therapy “really has transformed outcomes for a group of patients who previously had no other standard of care and who… have a relatively short overall survival,” Dr. Jacobson said.

At the meeting, Dr. Abramson presented findings on DLBCL patients in TRANSCEND NHL 001, a phase 1, multicenter, open-label study of the CD-19 targeted CAR T-cell therapy in relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

About 90% of treated DLBCL patients had one or more poor-risk disease features, such as ECOG performance status 2 and primary refractory disease, which predict poor overall survival, according to Dr. Abramson.

Dr. Abramson’s presentation focused on 102 evaluable DLBCL patients in the dose-finding and dose-expansion cohorts of the TRANSCEND study, including a subset analysis of a core group of 73 patients who met the criteria for pivotal dose cohort of the study (1 x 108 cells given as a single dose).

For the full set of 102 DLBCL patients, the best overall response rate was 75%, including a best complete remission rate of 55%, according to presented data. In the core group of 73 DLBCL patients, best overall response and complete remission rates were 80% and 59%, respectively.

Investigators saw “encouraging” durable response rates at 6 months and beyond in the core DLBCL population, according to Dr. Abramson. Of patients with a complete remission at 3 months, 88% remained in complete remission at the 6-month follow-up, and 93% of those in remission at the 6-month time point were in ongoing response at a median follow-up of 8 months.

Median overall survival had not been reached in either the full or core DLBCL cohorts with a median of 12 months follow-up, he added, noting that 90% of patients who achieved complete remission as their best response remained alive at 1 year.

In terms of adverse effects, liso-cel is showing a low and manageable toxicity profile, with very low rates of severe cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicity at 1% and 13%, respectively, Dr. Abramson reported.

“This anti-CD19 CAR T cell has remarkable efficacy in a group of highly refractory aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients,” said Dr. Jacobson, commenting on results of the DLBCL subset.

Based on the data presented, liso-cel is “clearly competitive” with the approved CAR T-cell therapies, though she advised caution in comparing across studies. “I don’t think that there will be a randomized study of all three agents, but I do think that we’ll start to get comparative data from single institution experiences that are using all three products,” she said.

The pivotal DLBCL cohort of TRANSCEND NHL 001 has completed accrual and results will be presented at a future meeting, Dr. Abramson said.

Dr. Abramson reported disclosures related to Celgene, Genentech/Roche, Gilead Sciences, Novartis, Seattle Genetics, and Millennium.

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