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      The clinical efficacy of first-generation carcinoembryonic antigen (CEACAM5)-specific CAR T cells is limited by poor persistence and transient pre-conditioning-dependent respiratory toxicity

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          The primary aim of this clinical trial was to determine the feasibility of delivering first-generation CAR T cell therapy to patients with advanced, CEACAM5 + malignancy. Secondary aims were to assess clinical efficacy, immune effector function and optimal dose of CAR T cells. Three cohorts of patients received increasing doses of CEACAM5 +-specific CAR T cells after fludarabine pre-conditioning plus systemic IL2 support post T cell infusion. Patients in cohort 4 received increased intensity pre-conditioning (cyclophosphamide and fludarabine), systemic IL2 support and CAR T cells. No objective clinical responses were observed. CAR T cell engraftment in patients within cohort 4 was significantly higher. However, engraftment was short-lived with a rapid decline of systemic CAR T cells within 14 days. Patients in cohort 4 had transient, acute respiratory toxicity which, in combination with lack of prolonged CAR T cell persistence, resulted in the premature closure of the trial. Elevated levels of systemic IFNγ and IL-6 implied that the CEACAM5-specific T cells had undergone immune activation in vivo but only in patients receiving high-intensity pre-conditioning. Expression of CEACAM5 on lung epithelium may have resulted in this transient toxicity. Raised levels of serum cytokines including IL-6 in these patients implicate cytokine release as one of several potential factors exacerbating the observed respiratory toxicity. Whilst improved CAR designs and T cell production methods could improve the systemic persistence and activity, methods to control CAR T ‘on-target, off-tissue’ toxicity are required to enable a clinical impact of this approach in solid malignancies.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00262-017-2034-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 26

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          T cells targeting carcinoembryonic antigen can mediate regression of metastatic colorectal cancer but induce severe transient colitis.

          Autologous T lymphocytes genetically engineered to express a murine T cell receptor (TCR) against human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were administered to three patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to standard treatments. All patients experienced profound decreases in serum CEA levels (74-99%), and one patient had an objective regression of cancer metastatic to the lung and liver. However, a severe transient inflammatory colitis that represented a dose limiting toxicity was induced in all three patients. This report represents the first example of objective regression of metastatic colorectal cancer mediated by adoptive T cell transfer and illustrates the successful use of a TCR, raised in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) transgenic mice, against a human tumor associated antigen. It also emphasizes the destructive power of small numbers of highly avid T cells and the limitations of using CEA as a target for cancer immunotherapy.
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            The role of extracellular spacer regions in the optimal design of chimeric immune receptors: evaluation of four different scFvs and antigens.

            Human peripheral blood lymphocytes can be transduced to express antigen-dependent CD3zeta chimeric immune receptors (CIRs), which function independently of the T-cell receptor (TCR). Although the exact function of these domains is unclear, previous studies imply that an extracellular spacer region is required for optimal CIR activity. In this study, four scFvs (in the context of CIRs with or without extracellular spacer regions) were used to target the human tumor-associated antigens carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), the oncofetal antigen 5T4, and the B-cell antigen CD19. In all cases human T-cell populations expressing the CIRs were functionally active against their respective targets, but the anti-5T4 and anti-NCAM CIRs showed enhanced specific cytokine release and cytotoxicity only when possessing an extracellular spacer region. In contrast, the anti-CEA and anti-CD19 CIRs displayed optimal cytokine release activity only in the absence of an extracellular spacer. Interestingly, mapping of the scFv epitopes has revealed that the anti-CEA scFv binds close to the amino-terminal of CEA, which is easily accessible to the CIR. In contrast, CIRs enhanced by a spacer domain appear to bind to epitopes residing closer to the cell membrane, suggesting that a more flexible extracellular domain may be required to permit the efficient binding of such epitopes. These results show that a spacer is not necessary for optimal activity of CIRs but that the optimal design varies.
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              Redirecting mouse CTL against colon carcinoma: superior signaling efficacy of single-chain variable domain chimeras containing TCR-zeta vs Fc epsilon RI-gamma.

              The structurally related TCR-zeta and Fc receptor for IgE (Fc epsilon RI)-gamma are critical signaling components of the TCR and Fc epsilon RI, respectively. Although chimeric Ab receptors containing zeta and gamma signaling chains have been used to redirect CTL to tumors, a direct comparison of their relative efficacy has not previously been undertaken. Here, in naive T lymphocytes, we compare the signaling capacities of the zeta and gamma subunits within single-chain variable domain (scFv) chimeric receptors recognizing the carcinoembryonic Ag (CEA). Using a very efficient retroviral gene delivery system, high and equivalent levels of scFv-zeta and scFv-gamma receptors were expressed in T cells. Despite similar levels of expression and Ag-specific binding to colon carcinoma target cells, ligation of scFv-anti-CEA-zeta chimeric receptors on T cells resulted in greater cytokine production and direct cytotoxicity than activation via scFv-anti-CEA-gamma receptors. T cells expressing scFv-zeta chimeric receptors had a greater capacity to control the growth of human colon carcinoma in scid/scid mice or mouse colon adenocarcinoma in syngeneic C57BL/6 mice. Overall, these data are the first to directly compare and definitively demonstrate the enhanced potency of T cells activated via the zeta signaling pathway.

                Author and article information

                Cancer Immunol Immunother
                Cancer Immunol. Immunother
                Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                28 June 2017
                28 June 2017
                : 66
                : 11
                : 1425-1436
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0417 0074, GRID grid.462482.e, Department of Medical Oncology, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, , Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, ; Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, M20 4BX UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000121662407, GRID grid.5379.8, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, , The University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Healthcare Science Centre, ; Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000000121662407, GRID grid.5379.8, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, , The University of Manchester, ; Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, UK
                [4 ]ISNI 0000000121901201, GRID grid.83440.3b, University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute, ; Paul O’Gorman Building, 72 Huntley Street, London, UK
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0422 0975, GRID grid.11485.39, Cancer Research UK Centre for Drug Development, ; Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London, UK
                [6 ]Stem Cells and Immunotherapy, National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Liverpool Centre, Speke, Liverpool, UK
                [7 ]Cellular Therapeutics Limited, Grafton Street, Manchester, UK
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Funded by: FundRef, Cancer Research UK;
                Award ID: PH1/105
                Award Recipient :
                Original Article
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                © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                cea, toxicity, t cells, chimeric antigen receptor, persistence


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