News >

Tisagenlecleucel Nears European Approval for DLBCL, ALL

Jason M. Broderick @jasoncology
Published: Friday, Jun 29, 2018

Carl June, MD

Carl June, MD

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended approval of tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) for the treatment of either adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that is relapsed or refractory after 2 or more lines of systemic therapy, or patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory, in relapse posttransplant, or in second or later relapse, according to Novartis, the manufacturer of the CAR T-cell therapy.

"We are excited to see that through our collaboration with Novartis, physicians in more countries around the world may be able to use this novel and innovative CAR-T cell therapy to improve the treatment outcomes for their patients," added June.

At the EHA Congress, Peter Borchmann MD, of the Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne in Cologne, Germany, discussed long-term results from the JULIET trial that were updated after an additional 8 months of follow-up since the last presentation of JULIET results at the 2017 ASH conference in December. JULIET is single-arm open-label global phase II trial (NCT02445248) of tisagenlecleucel in adult patients with relapse/refractory DLBCL, who were ineligible for or had failed autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). 

Of the 165 adult patients enrolled in JULIET, 111 patients were infused with a single dose of tisagenlecleucel (median, 3.0×108cells [range, 0.1-6.0×108 cells]). 92% of patients received bridging therapy and 93% received lymphodepleting chemotherapy. Median follow-up from infusion to data cutoff was 14 months with a maximum follow-up of 23 months. Median age of the patients was 56 years (range, 22-76). Nearly a quarter (23%) of patients were older than 65. 

At study entry, 76% of infused patients had stage III/IV disease, 17% had double/triple hit mutations in MYC/BCL2/BCL6. Germinal center B-cell disease was present in 57% of patients, and 41% had activated B-cell molecular subtypes. The patients had received a median of prior 3 lines of antineoplastic therapy (range, 1-6), with 95% undergoing ≥2 prior treatments, including prior ASCT in 49% of patients.

Centrally manufactured CAR T cells were provided using cryopreserved apheresis and a global supply chain. The primary endpoint of JULIET was best ORR (CR + PR) per independent review committee. Efficacy results were reported for 93 patients in the main cohort having at least 3 months’ follow-up or earlier discontinuation and the safety cohort included all 111 infused patients.

The median overall survival (OS) among all infused patients was 11.7 months (95% CI, 6.6-NE), with a 12-month OS rate of 49%. Median OS was not reached for patients in CR (95% CI, 17.9-NE), and the 12-month OS rate was 95% for these patients. The response status at 3 months indicated durable clinical benefit; the estimated progression-free survival rate at 12 months was 83% for patients with CR or PR at 3 months.

Grade 3 cytokine release syndrome (CRS) occurred in 14% of patients, with 8% of patients experiencing grade 4. Grade 3 neurological adverse events (AEs) occurred in 7% of patients, with 5% experiencing grade 4. Three patients died ≤30 days of infusion due to disease progression, as reported in the preliminary analysis. No additional deaths have occurred and no deaths were attributed to tisagenlecleucel, CRS, or cerebral edema.  

ELIANA, the first pediatric global CAR-T cell therapy registration trial, is a single-cohort, multicenter, study of tisagenlecleucel in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL. Patients aged 3 to 21 years with least 5% lymphoblasts in bone marrow at screening received a single median weight-adjusted dose of 3.1 × 106 transduced viable T cells per kg of body weight. The median total dose of transduced cells was 1.0 × 108 (range, 0.03 × 108 to 2.6 × 108).
Event-free survival was 73% at 6 months (95% CI, 60-82) and 50% at 12 months (95% CI, 35-64) among the 61 patients who responded to treatment. Overall survival (OS) in all 75 patients was 90% (95% CI, 81-95) at 6 months and 76% (95% CI, 63-86) at 12 months.

Investigators detected CAR T-cells in patients up to 20 months after initial infusion, with a median persistence of 168 days (range, 20-617) at data cutoff. All patients in the trial received a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel.

All responding patients demonstrated B-cell aplasia, an on-target effect of treatment with tisagenlecleucel. Evaluable patients with a response at day 28 had a median time to maximum expansion of 10 days (range, 5.7-28). Six patients with no response had a median time to maximum expansion of 20 days (range, 13-63).

Nearly all patients (95%) experienced any-grade treatment-related adverse events (TRAE). The most common non-hematologic TRAEs were CRS (77%), pyrexia (40%), decreased appetite (39%), febrile neutropenia (36%) and headache (36%).

Three-quarters of patients experienced a grade 3/4 TRAE, including 21% who experienced grade 3 CRS and 25% who experienced grade 4. Investigators managed CRS using prior site education on implementation of the CRS treatment algorithm. Thirty-five (47%) patients were admitted to the intensive care unit for management of CRS.

Forty percent of patients experienced neurological events within 8 weeks of infusion. Ten patients (13%) had grade 3 neurological events that were managed with best supportive care. There was no incidence of grade 4 neurological events or cerebral edema reported.

In August 2017, tisagenlecleucel became the first CAR T-cell therapy approved by the FDA when the agency authorized the treatment’s use for patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia that is refractory or in second or later relapse. The FDA approved tisagenlecleucel in May 2018 for use in adult patients with relapsed/refractory large B-cell lymphoma—including DLBCL, high-grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma—after 2 or more lines of systemic therapy.


  1. Borchmann P, Tam CS, Jager U, et al. An updated analysis of JULIET, a global pivotal Phase 2 trial of tisagenlecleucel in adult patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Presented at: 2018 EHA Congress; June 14-17, 2018; Stockholm, Sweden. Abstract S799.
  2. Maude SL, Laetsch TW, Buechner J, et al. Tisagenlecleucel in children and young adults with B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia. N Engl J Med. 2018; 378:439-448.


... to read the full story
To Read the Full Story

View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Community Practice Connections™: 22nd Annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies®: Focus on Leukemias, Lymphomas and MyelomaMay 30, 20192.0
Online Medical Crossfire®: 5th Annual Miami Lung Cancer ConferenceMay 30, 20196.5
Publication Bottom Border
Border Publication