Conference Coverage

CTL019 produces responses in rel/ref DLBCL


Gilles Salles, MD, PhD

The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy CTL019 produced a high response rate in a phase 2 trial of adults with relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), according to researchers.

An interim analysis of the JULIET trial revealed a 3-month overall response rate (ORR) of 45%.

Thirty-seven percent of patients had a complete response (CR), and all of the patients who were in CR at 3 months were still in CR at the data cutoff point.

This confirms the high response rates and durable responses observed in a previous single-center trial*, said JULIET investigator Gilles Salles, MD, PhD, of Hospices Civils de Lyon in Lyon, France.

Dr Salles presented results from JULIET at the 22nd Congress of the European Hematology Association (EHA) in Madrid, Spain (abstract LB2604).

The results were also presented at the 14th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML) in Lugano, Switzerland (abstract 007).

The study was sponsored by Novartis.


JULIET enrolled 141 patients age 18 and older with relapsed/refractory DLBCL.

Forty-three patients discontinued the study before receiving CTL019—28 due to progressive disease (including 16 deaths), 9 due to an inability to manufacture CTL019, 2 due to adverse events, 1 due to investigator decision, 1 due to study withdrawal, and 1 due to protocol deviation.

Eighty-five patients were infused. The remaining 13 patients were pending infusion at the data cutoff—December 20, 2016.

The median age of the 85 infused patients was 56 (range, 24-75). Ninety-six percent of patients had DLBCL not otherwise specified. Fifty-one percent had germinal center B-cell type DLBCL.

Fifty-four percent of patients had an ECOG performance status of 0, and 46% had a status of 1. Fifty-three percent of patients had stage IV disease, and 8% had bone marrow involvement.

Forty percent of patients had 2 prior lines of antineoplastic therapy, 29% had 3, and 31% had 4 to 7 prior lines.

Forty-one percent of patients were refractory to their last therapy, and 59% had relapsed after their last therapy. Fifty-one percent of patients had prior autologous stem cell transplant.


Seventy-six patients (89%) received bridging chemotherapy to prevent disease progression during CTL019 manufacturing. This treatment was completed 2 to 14 days prior to CTL019 infusion.

The median CTL019 cell dose was 3.1 x 108 (range, 0.1-6.0 x 108).


Fifty-one patients were evaluated for response. The median time from infusion to data cutoff was 3.7 months.

The best ORR was 59%, with a CR rate of 43% and a partial response rate of 16%. Twelve percent of patients had stable disease, and 24% progressed.

At 3 months, the ORR was 45%. The CR rate was 37%, and the partial response rate was 8%.

“All patients in CR at 3 months remained in CR at follow-up, and the median duration of response was not reached,” Dr Salles noted.

None of the responders went on to receive a transplant.


All 85 patients were evaluated for safety. Adverse events of special interest, occurring within 8 weeks of CTL019 infusion, were:

  • Cytokine release syndrome—57% all grades, 17% grade 3, 9% grade 4
  • Infections—27% all grades, 12% grade 3, 1% grade 4
  • Cytopenias not resolved by day 28—26% all grades, 13% grade 3, 8% grade 4
  • Neurologic events—21% all grades, 9% grade 3, 4% grade 4
  • Febrile neutropenia—14% all grades, 13% grade 3, 1% grade 4
  • Tumor lysis syndrome—1% grade 3.

“Adverse events were reversible and effectively managed at the different centers by appropriately trained study personnel,” Dr Salles noted. “There were no CTL019-related deaths and no cerebral edema.”

*SJ Schuster et al, 2016 ASH Annual Meeting, abstract 3026

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