Immuno-Oncology Resource Center

Immuno-Oncology Resource Center

Perspective from Dennis Cooper, MD
Disclosures: Savoldo reports a consulting role with Tessa Therapeutics and institutional research funding from Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, bluebird bio and Cell Medica. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
August 05, 2020
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Anti-CD30 CAR T-cell therapy appears safe, effective in advanced Hodgkin lymphoma

Perspective from Dennis Cooper, MD
Disclosures: Savoldo reports a consulting role with Tessa Therapeutics and institutional research funding from Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, bluebird bio and Cell Medica. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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A novel anti-CD30 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy conferred a high rate of durable responses among patients with heavily pretreated Hodgkin lymphoma who underwent fludarabine-based lymphodepletion, according to study results.

The phase 1/phase 2 study, published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, also showed the agent had an acceptable safety profile, with no high-grade adverse events.

Researchers observed no neurotoxicity during the trial.

“We have observed some remarkable results,” Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD, professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and assistant director of the immunotherapy program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, told Healio. “We have seen durable responses in a heavily pretreated, heavily refractory population, many of whom have exhausted all of the standard therapies for this disease. Although these results are not exactly surprising, they are certainly as positive as I would have hoped for and are quite welcomed.”

The CAR T cells used in this study targeted the CD30 protein on the surface of cancer cells, which is more prevalent in Hodgkin lymphoma. Previously approved CAR T-cell therapies target the CD19 protein.

Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD
Barbara Savoldo

“It’s a very safe treatment,” Savoldo said of the anti-CD30 CAR T-cell therapy. “Cytokine release syndrome [CRS] was very mild in our patient population. This is significant because our therapy may not require hospitalization or treatment with other drugs that are used to control CRS.”

However, anti-CD30 CAR T cells are not necessarily safer, Savoldo said. She acknowledged that differences in the diseases being treated and the patient population may account for the safety results seen with this approach.

The study included 41 patients (median age, 35 years; range, 17-69; 67% men) with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma who received anti-CD30 CAR T-cell therapy. Patients received a median seven (range, 2-23) previous lines of therapy.

All underwent lymphodepletion chemotherapy with bendamustine alone, bendamustine and fludarabine, or cyclophosphamide and fludarabine before receiving CAR T cells.

Safety served as the primary endpoint, with researchers seeking to establish the safest dose of the therapy for future trials. Secondary endpoints included overall response rate and OS.

Ten patients developed CRS; however, all had grade 1 cases that resolved without the need for subsequent tocilizumab (Actemra, Genentech) or steroids. Researchers observed no neurotoxicity.

Among the 32 patients with active disease who underwent lymphodepletion with a fludarabine-based regimen, results showed an ORR of 72%, with 19 patients (59%) achieving complete response. Four patients (13%) had a partial response to therapy, whereas three patients (9%) had stable disease and six (19%) had progressive disease.

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After median follow-up of 533 days, researchers reported a 1-year PFS rate of 36% (95% CI, 21-51) and 1-year OS rate of 94% (95% CI, 79-99).

Only patients who underwent fludarabine-containing lymphodepletion had a response to anti-CD30 CAR T-cell therapy. The ORR was zero among the five patients who had lymphodepletion without fludarabine, 80% among 15 patients who underwent lymphodepletion with bendamustine plus fludarabine and 65% among 17 patients who received lymphodepletion with cyclophosphamide and fludarabine.

Failure to add lymphodepletion before CAR T-cell infusion will produce some responses, but not to the same effect, Savoldo said. She told Healio that her team learned this lesson from previous research using the anti-CD30 CAR T-cell approach in Hodgkin lymphoma.

The efficacy shown with two different regimens in this study means the added benefit of lymphodepletion can be achieved even if a patient cannot tolerate one of the drugs. It provides clinicians with options, Savoldo said.

“Our response rates are in line with what would typically be seen with rituximab [Rituxan; Genentech, Biogen] in this patient population, which is usually an outstanding result,” Savoldo said. “However, most of our patients have failed or relapsed after treatment with rituximab, so that makes these results particularly exciting.”

For more information:

Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD, can be reached at bsavoldo@med.unc.edu.