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T cells expressing CD19 chimeric antigen receptors for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children and young adults: a phase 1 dose-escalation trial

Daniel W Lee, James N Kochenderfer, Maryalice Stetler-Stevenson, Yongzhi K Cui, Cindy Delbrook, Steven A Feldman, Terry J Fry, Rimas Orentas, Marianna Sabatino, Nirali N Shah, Seth M Steinberg, Dave Stroncek, Nick Tschernia, Constance Yuan, Hua Zhang, Lin

Original Research Article. The Lancet, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 13 October 2014

Summary

Background

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cells targeting CD19 have shown activity in case series of patients with acute and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and B-cell lymphomas, but feasibility, toxicity, and response rates of consecutively enrolled patients treated with a consistent regimen and assessed on an intention-to-treat basis have not been reported. We aimed to define feasibility, toxicity, maximum tolerated dose, response rate, and biological correlates of response in children and young adults with refractory B-cell malignancies treated with CD19-CAR T cells.

Methods

This phase 1, dose-escalation trial consecutively enrolled children and young adults (aged 1–30 years) with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Autologous T cells were engineered via an 11-day manufacturing process to express a CD19-CAR incorporating an anti-CD19 single-chain variable fragment plus TCR zeta and CD28 signalling domains. All patients received fludarabine and cyclophosphamide before a single infusion of CD19-CAR T cells. Using a standard 3 + 3 design to establish the maximum tolerated dose, patients received either 1 × 106 CAR-transduced T cells per kg (dose 1), 3 × 106 CAR-transduced T cells per kg (dose 2), or the entire CAR T-cell product if sufficient numbers of cells to meet the assigned dose were not generated. After the dose-escalation phase, an expansion cohort was treated at the maximum tolerated dose. The trial is registered withClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01593696.

Findings

Between July 2, 2012, and June 20, 2014, 21 patients (including eight who had previously undergone allogeneic haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation) were enrolled and infused with CD19-CAR T cells. 19 received the prescribed dose of CD19-CAR T cells, whereas the assigned dose concentration could not be generated for two patients (90% feasible). All patients enrolled were assessed for response. The maximum tolerated dose was defined as 1 × 106 CD19-CAR T cells per kg. All toxicities were fully reversible, with the most severe being grade 4 cytokine release syndrome that occurred in three (14%) of 21 patients (95% CI 3·0–36·3). The most common non-haematological grade 3 adverse events were fever (nine [43%] of 21 patients), hypokalaemia (nine [43%] of 21 patients), fever and neutropenia (eight [38%] of 21 patients), and cytokine release syndrome (three [14%) of 21 patients).

Interpretation

CD19-CAR T cell therapy is feasible, safe, and mediates potent anti-leukaemic activity in children and young adults with chemotherapy-resistant B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. All toxicities were reversible and prolonged B-cell aplasia did not occur.


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