Key Points

  • We present results of a clinical trial that show the safety of CD19-specific CAR T-cell therapy for R/R B-ALL.

  • Conditioning chemotherapy dose intensity and minimal pretreatment disease burden positively impact response without increase in toxicity.


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have demonstrated clinical benefit in patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). We undertook a multicenter clinical trial to determine toxicity, feasibility, and response for this therapy. A total of 25 pediatric/young adult patients (age, 1-22.5 years) with R/R B-ALL were treated with 19-28z CAR T cells. Conditioning chemotherapy included high-dose (3 g/m2) cyclophosphamide (HD-Cy) for 17 patients and low-dose (≤1.5 g/m2) cyclophosphamide (LD-Cy) for 8 patients. Fifteen patients had pretreatment minimal residual disease (MRD; <5% blasts in bone marrow), and 10 patients had pretreatment morphologic evidence of disease (≥5% blasts in bone marrow). All toxicities were reversible, including severe cytokine release syndrome in 16% (4 of 25) and severe neurotoxicity in 28% (7 of 25) of patients. Treated patients were assessed for response, and, among the evaluable patients (n = 24), response and peak CAR T-cell expansion were superior in the HD-Cy/MRD cohorts, as compared with the LD-Cy/morphologic cohorts without an increase in toxicity. Our data support the safety of CD19-specific CAR T-cell therapy for R/R B-ALL. Our data also suggest that dose intensity of conditioning chemotherapy and minimal pretreatment disease burden have a positive impact on response without a negative effect on toxicity. This trial was registered at as #NCT01860937.

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