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Novartis nabs first CAR T approval in Canada


Health Canada has authorized use of tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah), the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy to receive regulatory approval in Canada.

Tisagenlecleucel is approved to treat patients aged 3-25 years who have B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and relapsed after allogenic stem cell transplant (SCT) or are otherwise ineligible for SCT, have experienced second or later relapse, or have refractory disease.

Tisagenlecleucel is also approved in Canada to treat adults who have received two or more lines of systemic therapy and have relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified, high-grade B-cell lymphoma, or DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma.

Novartis, the company marketing tisagenlecleucel, said it is working with qualified treatment centers in Canada to prepare for the delivery of tisagenlecleucel. Certification and training are underway at these centers and Novartis is enhancing manufacturing capacity to meet patient needs.

Tisagenlecleucel has been studied in a pair of phase 2 trials – JULIET and ELIANA.

JULIET enrolled 165 adults with relapsed/refractory DLBCL, 111 of whom received a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel.

The overall response rate was 52% and the complete response (CR) rate was 40%. The median duration of response was not reached with a median follow-up of 13.9 months. At last follow-up, none of the responders had gone on to SCT.

The 12-month overall survival (OS) rate was 49%; the median OS was 11.7 months. The median OS was not reached for patients in CR.

Within 8 weeks of tisagenlecleucel infusion, 22% of patients had developed grade 3/4 cytokine release syndrome.

These results were presented at the 2018 annual congress of the European Hematology Association in June.

The ELIANA trial included 75 children and young adults with relapsed/refractory ALL. All patients received a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel, and 72 received lymphodepleting chemotherapy.

The median duration of follow-up was 13.1 months. The overall remission rate was 81%, with 60% of patients achieving a CR and 21% achieving CR with incomplete hematologic recovery. All patients whose best response was CR with incomplete hematologic recovery were negative for minimal residual disease. The median duration of response was not met.

Eight patients proceeded to SCT while in remission. At last follow-up, four were still in remission, and four had unknown disease status.

At 6 months, the event-free survival rate was 73%, and the OS rate was 90%. At 12 months, the rates were 50% and 76%, respectively.

About 95% of patients had adverse events thought to be related to tisagenlecleucel. The incidence of treatment-related grade 3/4 adverse eventss was 73% (N Engl J Med 2018; 378:439-48).

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First CAR T-cell therapy approved in Canada

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