More good news for CAR-T -- the Zuma-1 trial is reporting good results from the 6 month follow-up of 101 patients with aggressive lymphoma.
Let me make that clear: this news has to do with patients with aggressive lymphomas. I wrote about the 3 month results of the trial in February. The patients were divided into two cohorts. Cohort 1 was made up of 77 patients with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. The other 24 were in cohort 2, and included a small number of patients with Transformed Follicular Lymphoma. It's those few transformed FL patients that really caught my eye. They did very well in the first trial.
The numbers are now in for the 6 month follow up. The responses are down some -- patients that had responded immediately and kept their response up for 3 months were very high (for all 101 patients in both cohorts, there was an 82% Overall Response, and 54% Complete Response). After 6 months, the numbers are 41% OR and 36% CR. Still very good, though not as eye-popping as the first results.
For patients in cohort 2, which included the transformed FL patients, the results were even better than the whole group: at 3 months, 83% Overall Response and 71% Complete Response. After 6 months, they also dropped, but not as much: 54% OR and 50% CR.
Unfortunately, the 6 month update does not include separate numbers for the transformed Follicular Lymphoma patients. And it was a pretty small number of FL patients to begin with (just 6).
Still, those are darn good numbers. As someone who (like many of you) always has transformation in the back of mind, I like to hear about a treatment that helped half the people who took it.
All of thee patients, by the way, are chemorefractory -- that is, they had chemotherapy, but it didn't work. It would be great to have another back-up for CHOP.
The other piece of good news from this is that side-effects seemed to be about the same after 6 months as they were after 3 months. There were still some significant side effects (many related to lowered blood counts of different types), though they seemed manageable. And a few side efefcts went down, including patients with Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), which fell from 18% to 13%. (That's probably the most serious of the side effects, and comes when the body is overwhelmed with trying to clean up all of the cancer cells that the CAR-T is killing off so quickly.)
The full results will be presented in April at the American
Association for Cancer Research conference. The company that makes this CAR-T treatment is planning to use these results to start seeking regulatory approval for the treatment. That could be good news for all of us.
I'll keep on keeping an eye out for more promising CAR-T news.