A clinical trial of CAR T-cell therapy in advanced leukemia patients in China reported a 90 percent complete remission rate. The results, presented by Professor Huang He at the recent 2016 Haematogenic Immunity Summit in Hangzhou, support many other optimistic reports of successful CAR T trials worldwide.
CAR T-cell therapy employs the isolation of a cancer patient’s own immune T-cells outside the body. The T-cells were then engineered to find and destroy the cancer by unleashing the power of the immune system when injected back into the patient.
Performed as a joint effort between researchers at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University and Innovative Cellular Therapeutics, also in China, the 10-month trial ran June 2015 through April 2016 and was monitored by an independent third-party clinical research organization, according to a press release.
All 10 patients in the trial suffered from B lymphoblastic leukemia that either relapsed or had been refractory to previous treatment, giving little hope of recovery and a short life expectancy. In addition to the 90 percent complete remission rate, the study also reported that the minimal residual disease — cancerous cells lingering in the body after treatment that often leading to relapse — was negative in eight of the 10 patients.
The last patient, a 17-year-old woman who enrolled in the CAR-T trial in March, received an infusion with the transformed CAR T-cells in early April. As is common in CAR T-cell therapy, she suffered severe side effects caused by the release of massive amounts of immune cytokines, triggered by the CAR T-cells. Later analyses showed that her leukemia was in remission and the presence of minimal residual disease tested negative.
Innovative Cellular Therapeutics is also conducting clinical trials into relapsed and refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia in 23 patients at seven sites across China. Initial data collected shows that 20 of the patients, who all were at advanced disease stage, appeared to have reached complete remission, amounting to a remission rate of 87 percent.
The press release did not include information about deaths or adverse events during the trial.