Nine of twelve leukemia patients who received infusions of their own T cells after the cells had been genetically engineered to attack the patients' tumors responded to the therapy, which was pioneered by scientists in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Medicine researchers will present the latest results of the trial today at the American Society of Hematology's Annual Meeting and Exposition.
The clinical trial participants, all of whom had advanced cancers, included 10 adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and two children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Two of the first three patients treated with the protocol at HUP – whose cases were detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine in August 2011 – remain healthy and in full remissions more than two years after their treatment, with the engineered cells still circulating in their bodies. The findings reveal the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body's own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.
"Our results show that chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells have great promise to improve the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma," says the trial's leader, Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Translational Research in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "It is possible that in the future, this approach may reduce or replace the need for bone marrow transplantation."
The results pave the way for a potential paradigm shift in the treatment of these types of blood cancers, which in advanced stages have the possibility of a cure only with bone marrow transplants. That procedure requires a lengthy hospitalization and carries at least a 20 percent mortality risk -- and even then offers only a limited chance of cure for patients whose disease has not responded to other treatments.
Three abstracts about the new research will be presented during the ASH meeting. David Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation in the Abramson Cancer Center, will give an oral presentation of Abstract #717 on Monday, Dec. 10, at 5 PM in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom 4, Level 5, Building B of the Georgia World Congress Center. Michael Kalos, PhD, director of the Translational and Correlative Studies Laboratory at Penn, will give an oral presentation on Abstract #756 on Monday, Dec. 10, at 5:45 PM in C208-C210, Level 2, Building C. Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, director of Translational Research in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, will present a poster of Abstract #2604 on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 6 PM in Hall B1-B2, Level 1, Building B.
The protocol for the new treatment involves removing patients' cells through an apheresis process similar to blood donation, and modifying them in Penn's cell and vaccine production facility. Scientists there reprogram the patients' T cells to target tumor cells through a gene modification technique using a HIV-derived lentivirus vector. The vector encodes an antibody-like protein, called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), which is expressed on the surface of the T cells and designed to bind to a protein called CD19.
The modified cells are then infused back into the patient's body following lymphodepleting chemotherapy. Once the T cells start expressing the CAR, they focus all of their killing activity on cells that express CD19, which includes CLL and ALL tumor cells, and normal B cells. All of the other cells in the patient that do not express CD19 are ignored by the modified T cells, which limits systemic side effects typically experienced during traditional therapies.
In addition to initiating the death of the cancer cells, a signaling molecule built into the CAR also spurs the cell to produce cytokines that trigger other T cells to multiply -- building a bigger and bigger army until all the target cells in the tumor are destroyed.
In the patients who experienced complete remissions after treatment, the CAR T cells exhibited vigorous proliferation after infusion, with the most robust expansion activity usually occurring between 10 and 31 days after infusion. Each of these patients developed a cytokine release syndrome -- marked by fever, nausea, hypoxia and low blood pressure -- which doctors treated when needed with the anti-cytokine agent tocilizumab.
Ultimately, the modified T cell treatment eradicated large amounts of tumor in these patients.
Tests of patients with complete responses also show that normal B cells have been eliminated along with their tumors. Since these cells are important for the body's immune system to fight infection, the patients now are receiving regular gamma globulin treatments as a preventive measure. No unusual infections have been observed.
In August 2012, the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis announced an exclusive global research and licensing agreement to further study and commercialize these novel cellular immunotherapies using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technologies. As part of the transaction, Novartis acquired exclusive rights from Penn to CART-19, the therapy that was the subject of this clinical trial and which is now known as CTL019. Together, Penn and Novartis will build a first-of-its-kind Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT) in Philadelphia, which will be devoted to the discovery, development and manufacturing of adoptive T cell immunotherapies through a joint research and development program led by scientists and clinicians from Penn and Novartis.
The research was supported by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (June is the leader of one of the LLS's $6.25 million Specialized Center of Research grants), the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, and the National Institutes of Health (1R01CA165206 and R01 CA138738).
Patients seeking information about this trial may visit: http://www.penncancer.org/Tcelltherapy/.
Editor's notes: The University of Pennsylvania has licensed this technology to Novartis. Some of the scientists involved in these trials are inventors of this technology.
For interviews with Dr. Stephan Grupp from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, please contact Rachel Salis-Silverman at 267-970-3685, or SALIS@email.chop.edu.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $479.3 million awarded in the 2011 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2011, Penn Medicine provided $854 million to benefit our community.
Holly Auer | EurekAlert!
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology