BACKGROUND In a single-center phase 1-2a study, the anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel produced high rates of complete remission and was associated with serious but mainly reversible toxic effects in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). METHODS We conducted a phase 2, single-cohort, 25-center, global study of tisagenlecleucel in pediatric and young adult patients with CD19+ relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL. The primary end point was the overall remission rate (the rate of complete remission or complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery) within 3 months. RESULTS For this planned analysis, 75 patients received an infusion of tisagenlecleucel and could be evaluated for efficacy. The overall remission rate within 3 months was 81%, with all patients who had a response to treatment found to be negative for minimal residual disease, as assessed by means of flow cytometry. The rates of event-free survival and overall survival were 73% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60 to 82) and 90% (95% CI, 81 to 95), respectively, at 6 months and 50% (95% CI, 35 to 64) and 76% (95% CI, 63 to 86) at 12 months. The median duration of remission was not reached. Persistence of tisagenlecleucel in the blood was observed for as long as 20 months. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events that were suspected to be related to tisagenlecleucel occurred in 73% of patients. The cytokine release syndrome occurred in 77% of patients, 48% of whom received tocilizumab. Neurologic events occurred in 40% of patients and were managed with supportive care, and no cerebral edema was reported. CONCLUSIONS In this global study of CAR T-cell therapy, a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel provided durable remission with long-term persistence in pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL, with transient high-grade toxic effects.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was sponsored and designed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and was approved by the institutional review board at each participating institution. Patients or their guardians provided written informed consent or assent. Data were analyzed and interpreted by the sponsor in collaboration with the authors, and all the authors reviewed the manuscript and vouch for accuracy and completeness of the data and analyses and for adherence of the study to the protocol, available at NEJM.org. The first author wrote the first draft of the manuscript in conjunction with authors from Novartis. All the authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript and approved the final version for submission. Medical editorial assistance was provided by editors whose work was financially supported by Novartis.
Supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Maude is a Rally for Ryan Fund St. Baldrick’s Scholar.