FDA Okays New CAR T Therapy, First for Mantle Cell Lymphoma


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today granted accelerated approval to brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus, Kite Pharma), the first approved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

The new agent is the second approved CAR T cell product developed by Kite and follows the 2017 approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta) for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

“Despite promising advances, there are still major gaps in treatment for patients with MCL who progress following initial therapy,” said investigator Michael Wang, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, in a company statement. “Many patients have high-risk disease and are more likely to keep progressing, even after subsequent treatments.”

In the same press statement, Meghan Gutierrez, chief executive officer, Lymphoma Research Foundation, commented: “This approval marks the first CAR T cell therapy approved for mantle cell lymphoma patients and represents a new frontier in the treatment of this disease.” 

The approval of the single-infusion therapy is based on efficacy and safety data from the ongoing, single-arm ZUMA-2 pivotal trial, which enrolled 74 adult patients. All patients had previously received anthracycline- or bendamustine-containing chemotherapy, an anti-CD20 antibody therapy and a Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor (ibrutinib or acalabrutinib).

In the trial, there was an objective response rate, which was the primary outcome measure, of 87% among 60 patients who were evaluable for efficacy analysis; 62% had a complete response. 

Among all patients, follow-up was at least 6 months after their first objective disease response. Median duration of response has not yet been reached.

In terms of adverse events, 18% of the 82 patients evaluable for safety experienced > grade 3 cytokine release syndrome and 37% experienced neurologic events, per the company statement. The most common (≥ 10%) grade 3 or higher adverse reactions were anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, hypotension, hypophosphatemia, encephalopathy, leukopenia, hypoxia, pyrexia, hyponatremia, hypertension, infection-pathogen unspecified, pneumonia, hypocalcemia, and lymphopenia.

Brexucabtagene autoleucel will be manufactured in Kite’s facility in California. In the pivotal trial, there was a 96% manufacturing success rate and a median manufacturing turnaround time of 15 days from leukapheresis to product delivery.  

Nick Mulcahy is an award-winning senior journalist for Medscape. He previously freelanced for HealthDay and MedPageToday and had bylines in WashingtonPost.com, MSNBC, and Yahoo. Email: nmulcahy@medscape.net and on Twitter: @MulcahyNick

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