FDA OK’s Tecartus® CAR T-cell Therapy for B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company, announced on Friday that the U.S. FDA has granted approval for CAR T-cell therapy Tecartus® (brexucabtagene autoleucel) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

The first and only CAR T-cell therapy approved for adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia

The FDA approval marks another step toward expanding the Gilead and Kite franchise of CAR-T drugs. Following FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation and a priority review, Tecartus is the first and only chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy approved for adults (18 years and older) with ALL. There is a high unmet need, as half of this patient population will relapse, and median overall survival (OS) is only approximately eight months with current standard-of-care treatments. Patients can access Tecartus through 109 authorized treatment centers across the United States.

Bijal Shah, MD, ZUMA-3 investigator and medical oncologist, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida commented:

“Adults with ALL face a significantly poorer prognosis compared to children, and roughly half of all adults with B-ALL will relapse on currently available therapies. We now have a new meaningful advancement in treatment for these patients. A single infusion of Tecartus has demonstrated durable responses, suggesting the potential for long-term remission and a new approach to care.”

Complete remission with Tecartus was achieved by 65% of Patients in ZUMA-3 study

The approval is based on results from ZUMA-3, a global, multicenter, single-arm, open-label study in which 65% of the evaluable patients (n=54) achieved complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete hematological recovery (CRi) at a median actual follow-up of 12.3 months. The duration of CR was estimated to exceed 12 months for more than half the patients. Among efficacy-evaluable patients, median duration of remission (DOR) was 13.6 months. Among the patients treated with Tecartus at the target dose (n=78), Grade 3 or higher cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurologic events occurred in 26% and 35% of patients, respectively, and were generally well-managed.

Christi Shaw, Chief Executive Officer of Kite stated:

“Today marks Kite’s fourth FDA approved indication in cell therapy in under four years, demonstrating our commitment to advancing CAR T for patients across many different hematologic malignancies. Tecartus has already transformed outcomes for adults living with mantle cell lymphoma, and we look forward to offering the hope for a cure to patients with ALL.”

Adults with relapsed or refractory ALL often undergo multiple treatments including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and stem cell transplant. CAR T-cell therapy works differently, by making use of a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. With CAR T, the patient’s blood is drawn and the T cells are separated. Then the T cells are genetically engineered with a specific receptor that enables them to recognise and attack cancer cells, and put back into the patient’s body.

Lee Greenberger, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) stated:

“Roughly half of all ALL cases actually occur in adults, and unlike pediatric ALL, adult ALL has historically had a poor prognosis. Developing new therapies that would be life-changing for people with cancer has been a dream of LLS. We are proud to see the potential of CAR T realized for even more people with this approval for brexucabtagene autoleucel.”

At present Tecartus is also being reviewed in the European Union and the United Kingdom, for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL.

About the ZUMA-3 Trial

Further efficacy results from the ZUMA-3 trial have been published and presented in scientific forums. Published Phase 1 data showed 32% of responders (n=22) were still in remission at the median follow-up of 22.1 months. In Phase 2 data presented at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, investigators reported that among treated patients (n=54), 31% of these patients were in ongoing response at a median follow-up of 16.4 months. 97% of responders had deep molecular remission, with undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD), and median OS among all responders has not yet been reached. A safety analysis, reported in the Lancet, showed among all patients who experienced a neurologic event, 94% of CRS events and 88% of neurologic events were resolved.

ZUMA-3 is an international multicenter, registrational Phase 1/2 study in adult patients (≥18 years old) with ALL whose disease is refractory to or has relapsed after first standard systemic therapy with remission of 12 months or less, after two or more lines of systemic therapy or at least 100 days after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Seventy-one patients were enrolled (and leukapheresed) in the study, and the primary endpoint was overall complete remission rate (OCR, equaling complete remission plus complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery) as determined by an independent review.

About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

ALL is an aggressive type of blood cancer that can also involve the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, central nervous system and other organs. Around 1,000 adults are treated annually for relapsed or refractory ALL. B-cell precursor ALL is the most common form, accounting for approximately 75% of cases, and treatment is typically associated with inferior outcomes compared with other types of ALL. Survival rates remain low in adult patients with relapsed or refractory ALL, with median OS at less than 8 months.

About Tecartus

Tecartus is an autologous, anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy. Tecartus uses the XLP™ manufacturing process that includes T cell enrichment, a necessary step in certain B-cell malignancies in which circulating lymphoblasts are a common feature. Tecartus is also being evaluated in pediatric ALL, where its use is investigational, and its safety and efficacy have not been established.

About Kite

Kite, a Gilead Company, is a global biopharmaceutical company based in Santa Monica, California, with commercial manufacturing operations in North America and Europe. Kite’s singular focus is cell therapy to treat and potentially cure cancer. As the cell therapy leader, Kite has more approved CAR T indications to help more patients than any other company. For more information on Kite, please visit www.kitepharma.com.

About Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than 30 years, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries around the globe, with headquarters in Foster City, California.

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