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      Chimeric Antigen Receptor–Modified T Cells for Acute Lymphoid Leukemia

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          Abstract

          Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells with specificity for CD19 have shown promise in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It remains to be established whether chimeric antigen receptor T cells have clinical activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Two children with relapsed and refractory pre-B-cell ALL received infusions of T cells transduced with anti-CD19 antibody and a T-cell signaling molecule (CTL019 chimeric antigen receptor T cells), at a dose of 1.4×10(6) to 1.2×10(7) CTL019 cells per kilogram of body weight. In both patients, CTL019 T cells expanded to a level that was more than 1000 times as high as the initial engraftment level, and the cells were identified in bone marrow. In addition, the chimeric antigen receptor T cells were observed in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), where they persisted at high levels for at least 6 months. Eight grade 3 or 4 adverse events were noted. The cytokine-release syndrome and B-cell aplasia developed in both patients. In one child, the cytokine-release syndrome was severe; cytokine blockade with etanercept and tocilizumab was effective in reversing the syndrome and did not prevent expansion of chimeric antigen receptor T cells or reduce antileukemic efficacy. Complete remission was observed in both patients and is ongoing in one patient at 11 months after treatment. The other patient had a relapse, with blast cells that no longer expressed CD19, approximately 2 months after treatment. Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells are capable of killing even aggressive, treatment-refractory acute leukemia cells in vivo. The emergence of tumor cells that no longer express the target indicates a need to target other molecules in addition to CD19 in some patients with ALL.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells in chronic lymphoid leukemia.

          We designed a lentiviral vector expressing a chimeric antigen receptor with specificity for the B-cell antigen CD19, coupled with CD137 (a costimulatory receptor in T cells [4-1BB]) and CD3-zeta (a signal-transduction component of the T-cell antigen receptor) signaling domains. A low dose (approximately 1.5×10(5) cells per kilogram of body weight) of autologous chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells reinfused into a patient with refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) expanded to a level that was more than 1000 times as high as the initial engraftment level in vivo, with delayed development of the tumor lysis syndrome and with complete remission. Apart from the tumor lysis syndrome, the only other grade 3/4 toxic effect related to chimeric antigen receptor T cells was lymphopenia. Engineered cells persisted at high levels for 6 months in the blood and bone marrow and continued to express the chimeric antigen receptor. A specific immune response was detected in the bone marrow, accompanied by loss of normal B cells and leukemia cells that express CD19. Remission was ongoing 10 months after treatment. Hypogammaglobulinemia was an expected chronic toxic effect.
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            T cells with chimeric antigen receptors have potent antitumor effects and can establish memory in patients with advanced leukemia.

            Tumor immunotherapy with T lymphocytes, which can recognize and destroy malignant cells, has been limited by the ability to isolate and expand T cells restricted to tumor-associated antigens. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) composed of antibody binding domains connected to domains that activate T cells could overcome tolerance by allowing T cells to respond to cell surface antigens; however, to date, lymphocytes engineered to express CARs have demonstrated minimal in vivo expansion and antitumor effects in clinical trials. We report that CAR T cells that target CD19 and contain a costimulatory domain from CD137 and the T cell receptor ζ chain have potent non-cross-resistant clinical activity after infusion in three of three patients treated with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The engineered T cells expanded >1000-fold in vivo, trafficked to bone marrow, and continued to express functional CARs at high levels for at least 6 months. Evidence for on-target toxicity included B cell aplasia as well as decreased numbers of plasma cells and hypogammaglobulinemia. On average, each infused CAR-expressing T cell was calculated to eradicate at least 1000 CLL cells. Furthermore, a CD19-specific immune response was demonstrated in the blood and bone marrow, accompanied by complete remission, in two of three patients. Moreover, a portion of these cells persisted as memory CAR(+) T cells and retained anti-CD19 effector functionality, indicating the potential of this major histocompatibility complex-independent approach for the effective treatment of B cell malignancies.
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              B-cell depletion and remissions of malignancy along with cytokine-associated toxicity in a clinical trial of anti-CD19 chimeric-antigen-receptor-transduced T cells.

              We conducted a clinical trial to assess adoptive transfer of T cells genetically modified to express an anti-CD19 chimeric Ag receptor (CAR). Our clinical protocol consisted of chemotherapy followed by an infusion of anti-CD19-CAR-transduced T cells and a course of IL-2. Six of the 8 patients treated on our protocol obtained remissions of their advanced, progressive B-cell malignancies. Four of the 8 patients treated on the protocol had long-term depletion of normal polyclonal CD19(+) B-lineage cells. Cells containing the anti-CD19 CAR gene were detected in the blood of all patients. Four of the 8 treated patients had prominent elevations in serum levels of the inflammatory cytokines IFNγ and TNF. The severity of acute toxicities experienced by the patients correlated with serum IFNγ and TNF levels. The infused anti-CD19-CAR-transduced T cells were a possible source of these inflammatory cytokines because we demonstrated peripheral blood T cells that produced TNF and IFNγ ex vivo in a CD19-specific manner after anti-CD19-CAR-transduced T-cell infusions. Anti-CD19-CAR-transduced T cells have great promise to improve the treatment of B-cell malignancies because of a potent ability to eradicate CD19(+) cells in vivo; however, reversible cytokine-associated toxicities occurred after CAR-transduced T-cell infusions.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                April 18 2013
                April 18 2013
                : 368
                : 16
                : 1509-1518
                10.1056/NEJMoa1215134
                4058440
                23527958
                © 2013
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