Introduction: B Cell Mature Antigen (BCMA)-targeted chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy emerges as promising treatment for patients with relapse/refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM). Previous studies indicate patients who receive high-dose CAR-T cells may achieve better remission but have worse adverse events, like cytokine release syndrome (CRS). To solve this dilemma, we have developed novel autologous CAR-T therapeutics CT053 that are genetically modified T cells comprising an extracellular anti-BCMA human scFv and an intracellular 4-1BB costimulatory motif connected to a CD3-zeta T cell activation domain.

Methods: A multi-center investigator-initiated clinical study is designed to evaluate CT053 in patients with RRMM who have failed in the prior treatment with ≥2 regimens, including a proteasome inhibitor, an immunomodulatory agent, and anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. All patients have ≥50% BCMA expression on malignant cells. Patients are subjected to the lymphodepletion with 20-25 mg/m2 fludarabine and 300-500 mg/m2 cyclophosphamide daily for 2-4 days prior to receiving single-dose infusion of CT053 CAR-T cells. In case of progressive disease, patient may be dosed again on basis of investigators' evaluation of the disease status, BCMA expression and CAR-T persistence. Most enrolled patients received a single dose of 1.5 x 108 cells, except for 1 patient who received 0.5 x 108 cells and 1 patient who was infused with 1.8 x 108 cells. The primary outcome measure is incidence of adverse events (AEs), including dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) and CAR T related AEs. Additional outcome measures include clinical response assessed according to the IMWG Uniform Response Criteria for Multiple Myeloma, overall and progression-free survival, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic of CT053.

Results: The study was performed in compliance with the declaration of Helsinki. As of the data cut-off date (July 10th, 2018), 16 patients (median 55 [39 to 67] years old) with a median of 3.9 (0.4 to 16.7) years since MM diagnosis, were infused with CT053. Patients had a median of 4 prior different regimens (range 2 to 10), and 56% (9/16) patients received prior autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Among 16 patients, no neurotoxicity and no dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) were observed. The most common grade≥3 CAR-T related AEs were 3 thrombocytopenia (19%), 3 leukopenia (19%), 2 anemia (13%), 2 neutropenia (13%), 2 fever (13%) (Figure 1A). CRS was reported in 3 patients, including 1 Grade 3, 1 Grade 2 and 1 Grade 1, who had rapid recovery after Tocilizumab administration.

13/16 patients were eligible for initial evaluation of early clinical response with a median observation period of 8 (4 to 36) weeks. Overall response rate (ORR) in 13/13 patients was 100% post treatment. 12/13 patients (92%) quickly achieved partial response (4 PR), very good PR (6 VGPR), and complete response (2 CR) within 4 weeks post single-dose infusion (Figure 1B). 5/12 patients (42%) who were dosed at ≥1.5 x 108 CT053 CAR-T cells obtained CR at a median of 8 weeks post treatment. Durable responses from 4 weeks towards the data cut-off date were found in 12/13 patients (92%). One relapse from VGPR by the Week 12 was reported in a patient who had aggressive RRMM at enrollment and received the reduced dose of lymphodepletion regimen at 19 mg/m2 fludarabine and 192 mg/m2 cyclophosphamide for 2 days prior to CT053 infusion. Because positive BCMA expression on malignant cells was verified at relapse, the patient was re-dosed with CT053 at the Week 16 and subjected to the further evaluation.

All patients had detectable CAR-T expansion from Day 3 post CT053 infusion. Expansion peaks were found on Day 7 (5/13), Day 14 (6/13) and Day 21 (2/13). 11/13 patients had notable persistence of CT053 CAR-T cells up to 4-6 months. The only relapsed patient had the lowest CAR-T expansion peak among 13 patients, indicating the potential correlation between CAR-T expansion and response outcome.

Conclusions: Data from this early-stage clinical study showed the unparalleled safety and efficacy of CT053 CAR-T cells. Major AEs were transient, manageable, and reversible. 100% ORR in 13/13 evaluable patients were reported post single-dose infusion of 0.5~1.8 x 108 cells. 5/12 patients who were dosed at ≥1.5 x 108 CAR-T cells rapidly achieved durable CR at median of 8 weeks, suggesting CT053 could be developed as competitive therapeutics to treat patients with RRMM.


Ruan:CARsgen Therapeutics: Employment. Xiao:CARsgen Therapeutics: Employment, Equity Ownership. Wang:CARsgen Therapeutics: Employment, Equity Ownership. Li:CARsgen Therapeutics: Employment, Equity Ownership.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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