CAR-T Therapy Yescarta Leads to High Response Rate in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

California-based immuno-oncology company Kite Pharmaceuticals (a Gilead company; Nasdaq: GILD) has announced interim results from the phase 2 ZUMA-5 clinical trial, which evaluated the the efficacy and safety of CAR-T cell therapy Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) for the treatment of relapsed or refractory indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in adults.

Patients in the study attempted treatment with at least two alternative non-hodgkin lymphoma therapies prior to receiving Yescarta. After one infusion of the cell therapy, 80% of patients achieved “a complete response (CR) as assessed by an independent review committee” and 93% responded to treatment.

Medical Director of the Immune Effector Cell Therapy Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Caron A Jacobson, MD, stated, ‚ÄúPeople living with certain indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas, such as follicular lymphoma, can experience relapses with increasing frequency and develop a more aggressive disease over time despite available treatments.”

“Thus, the strong overall response and complete response rates demonstrating the potential of this therapy is extremely promising for these patients,” Dr. Jacobson continued.

Adverse events experienced by patients in the trial included cytokine release syndrome, neurologic events, and multisystem organ failure, among others.

According to their press release, Kite Pharmaceuticals intends to expand the use of Yescarta to treating relapsed or refractory indolent NHLs by submitting a supplemental Biologics License Application to the United States Food and Drug Administration.

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Global Head of Clinical Development at Kite Pharmaceuticals Ken Takeshita, MD, stated, “Yescarta is substantially improving outcomes for people with certain relapsed and refractory cancers, such as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.”

“These results from ZUMA-5 support our assessment that Yescarta has the potential to provide benefit in indolent NHL, and we look forward to sharing results from the primary analysis in patients with relapsed or refractory disease later this year,” Dr. Takeshita continued.

Other immune cell-based cancer therapies are currently under development including NantKwest’s natural killer cell-based therapy which has shown promise for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer.