CAR-T Cell Therapy Shows Promise In Treating Reoccurring Blood Cancers After Stem Cell Transplantation Without Causing Graft-vs.-Host Disease

John Theurer Cancer Center Researchers Partner with NIH Scientists in Key Study

Dec 06, 2015, 08:00 ET from John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study co-authored by Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) researchers from the John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center and presented here at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting demonstrates that chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy can induce remission of certain blood cancers that may progress after a patient receives stem cell transplantation, while reducing the risk of a potentially fatal post-transplant complication known as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).

The study, a partnership between JTCC and researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Researchers determined that infusing a transplant donor's T-cells that have been genetically modified to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting an antigen known as CD19 can induce complete or partial remission of certain blood cancers in patients who have previously received an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT). These cancers, known collectively as B-cell malignancies, comprise most non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, some leukemias, and myelomas.

"Progressive cancers are the leading cause of death after alloHSCT, and current standard practices have proven largely ineffective at stopping the cancer and indeed often cause graft-versus-host disease," said Andre Goy, MD, MS, chairman, JTCC and Chief, Division of Lymphoma, Hackensack University Medical Center. "Our findings point to infusion of anti-CD19 CAR-T cells as a promising therapy in the treatment of B-cell cancers with a greatly reduced risk of GVHD, and our hope is that this approach will become an integral part of allogeneic stem cell transplantation."

In the study, patients with B-cell malignancies after alloHSCT received a single infusion of donor CAR-T cells, with no chemotherapy or other therapies administered. Out of 20 patients evaluated, six achieved complete remission (CR) and two achieved partial remission. Response was highest among patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but responses also occurred in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and lymphoma. The longest CR to date exceeds 30 months in a patient with CLL. No patients in the study developed GVHD after infusion of CAR-T cells. The most commonly reported adverse events were fever, tachycardia and hypotension.

"CAR-T cell therapy is an area we at JTCC have been investigating for nearly a decade, and we view this study as a major step forward," said Andrew L. Pecora, MD, FACP, CPE, Vice President of Cancer Services and Chief Innovation Officer, JTCC. "Our collaboration with NIH on this important initiative is further evidence of our commitment to advancing research, seeking better therapeutic solutions and improving clinical practice in the service of patients with hematologic cancers."

About CAR-T Cell Therapy
CAR-T cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy, widely recognized as the newest and most exciting frontier in cancer therapy. CAR-T cell therapy involves engineering immune cells (from a patient or a donor) to recognize and prompt the body's immune system to fight cancerous tumors. T cells are harvested and modified to produce CARs that improve the ability of the immune system to attack a cancer by binding to specific targets on the cancer cell.

About John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center
John Theurer Cancer Center is New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive cancer center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, preventive care, as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancer.

Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. The 14 specialized divisions feature a team of medical, research, nursing and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. John Theurer Cancer Center provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care, state of the art technology, and access to clinical trials, compassionate care and medical expertise— all under one roof. Physicians at John Theurer Cancer Center are members of Regional Cancer Care Associates, one of the nation's largest professional hematology/oncology groups. For more information please visit

Follow our researchers with our Twitter handles @JTCancerCenter, @AndreGoyMD and Periscope @JTCancerCenter. Monitor our activity at the ASH annual meeting by following #ASH15 #ASH2015.


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SOURCE John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center