Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Kite Pharma Test Lymphoma Immunotherapy

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Kite Pharma Test Lymphoma Immunotherapy

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers in collaboration with Kite Pharma, are currently recruiting patients for a Phase 2 clinical trial testing investigational cancer immunotherapy drug KTE-C19 for the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common form non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The drug, designed with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell technology, is a novel cellular immunotherapy approach, being used for the first time by Sylvester to treat patients in South Florida.

The potential new immunotherapy treatment uses T cells taken from the patient and engineered by Kite Pharma to recognize and destroy tumor cells. After extraction from the blood and using a technique called gene transfer, researchers introduce potent receptors into the T cells allowing them to destroy malignant cells. The expanded T cells are sent to Sylvester and reintroduced into the patient’s circulation system and, ideally, travel to the tumor site and kill malignant cells.

The team used a genetic construct called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), a synthetic receptor that is delivered and linked to specialized subsets of T cells by gene transfer. Once in circulation, the T cells are intended to specifically target and kill cancer cells that express certain proteins, such as CD19, found on the malignant B cells involved in most lymphomas.

The ZUMA-1 trial (NCT02348216) is a multicenter Phase 1/2 study to assess the safety and efficacy of KTE-C19 in patients with refractory, aggressive NHL, a type of blood cancer that has not responded to standard therapies. The KTE-C19 treatment involves three days of chemotherapy, a weeklong hospital stay, and up to 15 years of follow-ups and monitoring of disease response and remission. Moreover, the drug is also being evaluated for treatment of relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma and relapsed/refractory B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in the Zuma-2 clinical trial (NCT02601313)  and ZUMA-3 trial (NCT02614066), respectively

“CAR-T cells represent a remarkable new way of harnessing the immune system and redirecting it to destroy cancer cells,” the study’s principal investigator Lazaros J. Lekakis, M.D., a hematologic oncologist at Sylvester, said in a news release. “In this trial, Kite Pharma, the sponsor of the study, genetically engineers the patient’s own T cells, an important component of the immune system, to recognize lymphoma cells and attack them in a way that mimics the way the immune system fights serious infections.”