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1974 Predictors of T Cell Expansion and Clinical Responses Following B-Cell Maturation Antigen-Specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy (CART-BCMA) for Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma (MM)

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 653. Myeloma: Therapy, excluding Transplantation: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Adult, apheresis, Biological, multiple myeloma, Diseases, Therapies, CAR-Ts, Biological Processes, Technology and Procedures, Study Population, immunotherapy, Plasma Cell Disorders, Lymphoid Malignancies, Clinically relevant, flow cytometry, immune mechanism
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 6:15 PM-8:15 PM
Hall GH (San Diego Convention Center)

Adam D. Cohen, MD1, J. Joseph Melenhorst, PhD2, Alfred L. Garfall, MD1, Simon F Lacey, PhD, BS2, Megan Davis, PhD2*, Dan T. Vogl, MD1, Lifeng Tian, PhD2*, Vanessa Gonzalez3*, Iulian Pruteanu, PhD4*, Anne Marie Nelson2*, Gabriela Plesa, MD3*, Adam Waxman, MD1, Regina M Young, PhD2*, Bruce L Levine, PhD2, Carl H June, MD2, Edward A. Stadtmauer, MD, FACP1* and Michael C. Milone, MD, PhD5

1Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
2Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
3Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
4Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ
5Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, Perelman School of Medicine At the Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Background: Relapsed/refractory (rel/ref) MM is associated with progressive immune dysfunction, including reversal of CD4:CD8 T cell ratio and acquisition of terminally-differentiated T cell phenotypes. BCMA-directed CAR T cells have promising activity in MM, but the factors that predict for robust in vivo expansion and responses are not known. In a phase 1 study of CART-BCMA (autologous T cells expressing a human BCMA-specific CAR with CD3ζ/4-1BB signaling domains) in refractory MM patients (median 7 priors, 96% high-risk cytogenetics), we observed partial response (PR) or better in 12/25 (47%) (Cohen et al, ASH 2017, #505). Recently, we demonstrated in CLL pts receiving CD19-directed CAR T cells that certain T cell phenotypes prior to generation of the CAR T product were associated with improved in vivo expansion and clinical outcomes (Fraietta et al, Nat Med 2018). We thus sought to identify pre-treatment clinical or immunological features associated with CART-BCMA expansion and/or response.

Methods: Three cohorts were enrolled: 1) 1-5 x 108 CART cells alone; 2) cyclophosphamide (Cy) 1.5 g/m2 + 1-5 x 107 CART cells; and 3) Cy 1.5 g/m2 + 1-5 x 108 CART cells. Phenotypic analysis of peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) mononuclear cells, frozen leukapheresis aliquots, and phenotype and in vitro kinetics of CART-BCMA growth during manufacturing were performed by flow cytometry. CART-BCMA in vivo expansion was assessed by flow cytometry and qPCR. Responses were assessed by IMWG criteria.

Results: Responses (≥PR) were seen in 4/9 pts (44%, 1 sCR, 2 VPGR, 1 PR) in cohort 1; 1/5 (20%, 1 PR) in cohort 2; and 7/11 (64%, 1 CR, 3 VGPR, 3 PR) in cohort 3. As of 7/9/18, 3/25 (12%) remain progression-free at 11, 14, and 32 months post-infusions. As previously described, responses were associated with both peak in vivo CART-BCMA expansion (p=0.002) as well as expansion over first month post-infusion (AUC-28, p=0.002). No baseline clinical or MM-related characteristic was significantly associated with expansion or response, including age, isotype, time from diagnosis, # prior therapies, being quad- or penta-refractory, presence of del 17p or TP53 mutation, serum hemoglobin, BM MM cell percentage, MM cell BCMA intensity, or soluble BCMA concentration. Treatment regimen given before leukapheresis or CART-BCMA infusions also had no predictive value. We did find, however, that higher CD4:CD8 T cell ratios within the leukapheresis product were associated with greater in vivo CART-BCMA expansion (Spearman’s r=0.56, p=0.005) and clinical response (PR or better; p=0.014, Mann-Whitney). In addition, and similar to our CLL data, we found that a higher frequency of CD8 T cells within the leukapheresis product with an “early-memory” phenotype of CD45RO-CD27+ was also associated with improved expansion (Spearman’s r=0.48, p=0.018) and response (p=0.047); Analysis of manufacturing data confirmed that higher CD4:CD8 ratio at culture start was associated with greater expansion (r=0.41, p=0.044) and, to a lesser degree, responses (p=0.074), whereas absolute T cell numbers or CD4:CD8 ratio in final CART-BCMA product was not (p=NS). In vitro expansion during manufacturing did associate with in vivo expansion (r=0.48, p=0.017), but was not directly predictive of response. At the time of CART-BCMA infusion, the frequency of total T cells, CD8+ T cells, NK cells, B cells, and CD3+CD56+ cells within the PB or BM was not associated with subsequent CART-BCMA expansion or clinical response; higher PB and BM CD4:CD8 ratio pre-infusion correlated with expansion (r=0.58, p=0.004 and r=0.64, p=0.003, respectively), but not with response.

Conclusions: In this study, we found that CART-BCMA expansion and responses in heavily-pretreated MM patients were not associated with tumor burden or other clinical characteristics, but did correlate with certain immunological features prior to T cell collection and manufacturing, namely preservation of normal CD4:CD8 ratio and increased frequency of CD8 T cells with a CD45RO-CD27+ phenotype. This suggests that patients with less dysregulated immune systems may generate more effective CAR T cell products in MM, and has implications for optimizing patient selection, timing of T cell collection, and manufacturing techniques to try to overcome these limitations in MM patients.

Disclosures: Cohen: Celgene: Consultancy; Novartis: Research Funding; Oncopeptides: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy; Poseida Therapeutics, Inc.: Research Funding; Bristol Meyers Squibb: Consultancy, Research Funding; Kite Pharma: Consultancy; GlaxoSmithKline: Consultancy, Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Consultancy. Melenhorst: Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy: Research Funding; novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Casi Pharmaceuticals: Consultancy; Incyte: Research Funding; Shanghai UNICAR Therapy, Inc: Consultancy. Garfall: Amgen: Research Funding; Kite Pharma: Consultancy; Bioinvent: Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding. Lacey: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation: Patents & Royalties; Parker Foundation: Research Funding; Tmunity: Research Funding; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation: Research Funding. Davis: Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Inc.: Patents & Royalties. Vogl: Karyopharm Therapeutics: Consultancy. Pruteanu: Novartis: Employment. Plesa: Novartis: Research Funding. Young: Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Levine: Novartis: Consultancy, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; CRC Oncology: Consultancy; Incysus: Consultancy; Tmunity Therapeutics: Equity Ownership, Research Funding; Brammer Bio: Consultancy; Cure Genetics: Consultancy. June: Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Immune Design: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Tmunity Therapeutics: Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Immune Design: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Celldex: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Tmunity Therapeutics: Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Stadtmauer: Takeda: Consultancy; Celgene: Consultancy; Amgen: Consultancy; AbbVie, Inc: Research Funding; Janssen: Consultancy. Milone: Novartis: Patents & Royalties.

*signifies non-member of ASH