Positive results have been seen in a trial of a new immunotherapy for B-cell lymphoma.
The scientists report at a conference that the bi-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells, targeting the biomarkers CD19 and CD20, are safe and effective for patients with relapsed or treatment-resistant B-cell lymphoma.
The trial was based at the University of California Los Angeles, USA, and involved five patients. By targeting both biomarkers, it represents a two-pronged attack rather than the usual single target approach common in most CAR-T therapies.
Dr Sarah Larson, principle investigator on the trial, explained: “One of the reasons CAR T cell therapy can stop working in patients is because the cancer cells escape from therapy by losing the antigen CD19, which is what the CAR T cells are engineered to target.
“One way to keep the CAR T cells working is to have more than one antigen to target. So, by using both CD19 and CD20, the thought is that it will be more effective and prevent the loss of the antigen, which is known as antigen escape, one of the common mechanisms of resistance.”
The design of the treatment appeared to limit the development of resistance and lead to long-lasting remission. Four of the five patients showed complete metabolic response, with low levels of toxicity.
Dr Sanaz Ghafouri from the team presented the work at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, held virtually on the 10th-14th April 2021.
Dr Ghafouri said: “These responses are overall very impressive. We are hopeful that dual targeting CD19/CD20 CARs in naive memory T-cells will provide patients with relapsed or refractory aggressive B-cell lymphomas, that are otherwise chemotherapy-refractory, a chance at a possible cure or at the very least a lasting long-term remission.”
The trial is continuing and will soon publish results on the duration of the beneficial response.
Ghafouri SN, Walthers C, Roshandell M, Ji B, Trent J, Chen JM, Naparstek J, Harris C, Schweppe T, Nawaly KK, Mead M, De Vos S, Young P, Oliai C, Schiller G, Timmerman JM, Chen YY, Larson S. (2021) “CT007 - CD19/CD20 bispecific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) in naive/memory T-cells for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell lymphomas”. American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021, abstract available from: https://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/9325/presentation/5138
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