Abstract

CTL019 are autologous T cells genetically modified to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) consisting of an external anti-CD19 domain with the CD3z and 4-1BB signaling domains, and mediate potent anti-tumor effects in patients (pts) with advanced, R/R CLL, ALL and NHL. CRS is the most serious toxicity of CTL019 therapy; symptoms can include fevers, nausea, myalgias, capillary leak, hypoxia, and hypotension.

Standard CRS grading criteria are not applicable to CAR T cell therapies. To better capture clinical manifestations of CRS and guide intervention after CTL019, we devised a novel CRS grading scale. that was applied to 40 pts treated with CTL019 for R/R CLL; 14 pts on an initial pilot and 26 pts on an ongoing dose-optimization trial (reported separately).

Our new CRS grading system is shown below. Pts were 80% male, a median age of 65 (range 51-78) and received a median of 4 prior therapies (range 1-10). 41% had known mutation at p53. 83% of 24 pts tested had unmutated IgVH. Response rate to CTL019 (CR+PR) was 42%. CRS was the major toxicity and occurred in 57% (23/40) of pts. CRS was gr 1 in 10%, gr 2 in 17%, gr 3 in 15% and gr 4 in 15%. Development of CRS correlated with response; 13/23 (57%) pts with CRS responded versus 4/17 (24%) pts without CRS responded (p=0.05). CRS was associated with elevations in IL-6, IFN-g, and other cytokines; details for 33 pts will be presented. Peak fold-increase over baseline for IL-6 was a median of 10.6x (range 0.28–649) and for IFN- g a median of 32.9x (1–7243x). For pts with CRS, this increase in IL-6 was a median of 23.5x compared to 1.86x in pts without CRS (p=0.001); and in IFN- g was a median of 97.2xin pts with CRS compared to 24.2x without (p=0.018). Increasing CRS severity was associated with peak fold change in IL-6 (p< 0.0001) and IFN- g (p=0.015). Notably, unlike cytokine changes associated with sepsis, TNF-a did not markedly increase during CRS.

CRS occurred with a consistent and often dramatic increase in ferritin, C reactive protein (CRP), and hemophagocytosis, suggesting concurrent macrophage activation syndrome (MAS). Increasing CRS severity was associated with an increasing trend for peak ferritin (log scale, p<0.001) and peak CRP (p<0.001). The median peak ferritin was 13,463 ng/ml in pts with CRS compared to 378 in pts without (p<0.001). Median peak CRP was 16 mg/dl in pts with CRS compared to 3.86 in pts without (p=0.002). CRS required intervention in 8 pts. 1 pt was successfully treated with corticosteroids. Given marked increases in IL-6, 7 patients received the IL6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab with or without corticosteroids with resolution of CRS. Tocilizumab was given to 1/7 pts with gr 2 CRS, 1/6 pts with gr 3 and 5/6 pts with gr 4. Several pts also received corticosteroids and/or etanercept. All pts had resolution of CRS signs with no TRM from CRS.

CRS is the most significant complication of CTL019 and can be life threatening. A novel CRS grading system was needed to identify CRS severity more accurately guide intervention timing. CTL019-related CRS is associated with a unique cytokine profile and has been manageable with anti-cytokine therapy in pts with R/R CLL. CRS appears to correlate with response of CLL to CTL019. Further study is needed to develop reliable methods to predict severity and minimize CRS toxicity without inhibiting anti-leukemia activity of CTL019.

New CRS Grading System for CTL019

Abstract 1983. Table
Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 
Mild: Treated with supportive care such as anti-pyretics, anti-emetics Moderate: Requiring IV therapies or parenteral nutrition; some signs of organ dysfunction (i.e. gr 2 Cr or gr 3 LFTs) related to CRS and not attributable to any other condition. Hospitalization for management of CRS related symptoms including fevers with associated neutropenia. More severe:
Hospitalization required for management of symptoms related to organ dysfunction including gr 4 LFTs or gr 3 Cr related to CRS and not attributable to any other conditions; this excludes management of fever or myalgias. Includes hypotension treated with IV fluids or low-dose pressors, coagulopathy requiring FFP or cryoprecipitate, and hypoxia requiring supplemental O2 (nasal cannula oxygen, high flow 02, CPAP or BiPAP). Pts admitted for management of suspected infection due to fevers and/or neutropenia may have gr 2 CRS. 
Life-threatening complications such as hypotension requiring “high dose pressors”, hypoxia requiring mechanical ventilation. 
Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 
Mild: Treated with supportive care such as anti-pyretics, anti-emetics Moderate: Requiring IV therapies or parenteral nutrition; some signs of organ dysfunction (i.e. gr 2 Cr or gr 3 LFTs) related to CRS and not attributable to any other condition. Hospitalization for management of CRS related symptoms including fevers with associated neutropenia. More severe:
Hospitalization required for management of symptoms related to organ dysfunction including gr 4 LFTs or gr 3 Cr related to CRS and not attributable to any other conditions; this excludes management of fever or myalgias. Includes hypotension treated with IV fluids or low-dose pressors, coagulopathy requiring FFP or cryoprecipitate, and hypoxia requiring supplemental O2 (nasal cannula oxygen, high flow 02, CPAP or BiPAP). Pts admitted for management of suspected infection due to fevers and/or neutropenia may have gr 2 CRS. 
Life-threatening complications such as hypotension requiring “high dose pressors”, hypoxia requiring mechanical ventilation. 

Disclosures

Porter:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Genentech (spouse employment): Employment. Off Label Use: Use of genetically modified T cells (CTL019) to treat CLL and use of tocilizumab to treat cytokine release syndrome.. Lacey:Novartis: Research Funding. Hwang:NVS: Research Funding. Frey:Novartis: Research Funding. Chew:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Chen:Novartis: Research Funding. Kalos:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Gonzalez:Novartis: Research Funding. Melenhorst:Novartis: Research Funding. Litchman:Novartis: Employment. Shen:Novartis: Employment. Quintas-Cardamas:Novartis: Employment. Wood:Novartis Pharma: Employment. Levine:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. June:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Grupp:Novartis: Research Funding.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.