Conference Coverage

CAR T may have curative potential in Hodgkin lymphoma



– Although the data set is small and not yet mature, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy appears to be a promising approach for Hodgkin lymphoma, according to Philippe Armand, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.

While based on a handful of patients, the data do suggest this approach may play a role by targeting CD30 or Epstein Barr virus (EBV), Dr. Armand said at the NCCN Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies.

“Most importantly perhaps, like its experience outside of Hodgkin lymphoma, it may really have curative potential, based on the long [complete response] rates that have been already exhibited,” he said.

Much of the published clinical experience to date is with CD30-directed CAR Ts, Dr. Armand said, noting that in Hodgkin lymphoma, results so far show promise for this particular approach.

In a recent phase 1 dose escalation study, nine patients with relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma or anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) received infusions of autologous T cells modified to express CD30-specific CAR T cells encoding the CD28 costimulatory domain, with no conditioning regimen.

Out of seven relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma patients, one had a complete response (CR) lasting beyond 2.5 years following a second infusion. Another patient had a CR persisting almost 2 years, and three patients had transient stable disease. One of the two ALCL patients had a CR lasting 9 months after a fourth infusion.

No toxicities attributable to the therapy were seen, according to the investigators.

The CD30 CAR T cells are being evaluated with a conditioning regimen in the phase 1 RELY-30 trial. Preliminary results presented at the 2018 European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation meeting in Lisbon showed better expansion of CAR T cells and responses in three out of five patients, including two CRs, according to Dr. Armand.

A CD30-directed CAR T-cell therapy with a 4-1BB costimulatory domain has also been tested in a small group of Hodgkin patients with a response rate of 35% – including some CRs – with an apparent lower response rate in patients with extranodal involvement. Dr. Armand noted that those findings need to be validated in additional studies.

Among non CD-30 targeted products, a CD19 CAR-T approach has been tried in Hodgkin lymphoma, though preliminary results suggest only transient activity, according to the presenter.

One interesting approach has been the targeting of EBV, he added. Recently reported results showed that two doses of T cells with specificity for EBV-derived tumor antigens induced clinical responses in patients with EBV-positive Hodgkin lymphoma.

The cells were engineered to express dominant-negative TGF-beta receptor type 2, according to the report. “We know that TGF-beta provides a strong immunosuppressant signal in the tumor microenvironment,” Dr. Armand said, noting that some of the responses in the seven evaluable patients lasted 4 years or more.

Dr. Armand reported financial disclosures related to Adaptive Biotechnologies/Sequenta, Affimed, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Roche.

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