Catch me if you can: Leukemia Escape after CD19-Directed T Cell Immunotherapies.
ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy is the revolution in cancer treatment of this last decade. Among multiple approaches able to harness the power of the immune system against cancer, T cell based immunotherapies represent one of the most successful examples. In particular, biotechnological engineering of protein structures, like the T cell receptor or the immunoglobulins, allowed the generation of synthetic peptides like chimeric antigen receptors and bispecific antibodies that are able to redirect non-tumor specific T cells to recognize and kill leukemic cells. The anti-CD19/CD3 bispecific antibody blinatumomab and anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CART19) have produced deep responses in patients with relapsed and refractory B-cell acute leukemias. However, although the majority of these patients responds to anti-CD19 immunotherapy, a subset of them still relapses. Interestingly, a novel family of leukemia escape mechanisms has been described, all characterized by the apparent loss of CD19 on the surface of leukemic blasts. This extraordinary finding demonstrates the potent selective pressure of CART19/blinatumomab that drives extreme and specific escape strategies by leukemic blasts. Patients with CD19-negative relapsed leukemia have very poor prognosis and novel approaches to treat and ideally prevent antigen-loss are direly needed. In this review we discuss the incidence, mechanisms and therapeutic approaches for CD19-negative leukemia relapses occuring after CD19-directed T cell immunotherapies and present our future perspective.
Project description:Potent CD19-directed immunotherapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CART) and blinatumomab, have drastically changed the outcome of patients with relapsed/refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). However, CD19-negative relapses have emerged as a major problem that is observed in approximately 30% of treated patients. Developing approaches to preventing and treating antigen-loss escapes would therefore represent a vertical advance in the field. Here, we found that in primary patient samples, the IL-3 receptor ? chain CD123 was highly expressed on leukemia-initiating cells and CD19-negative blasts in bulk B-ALL at baseline and at relapse after CART19 administration. Using intravital imaging in an antigen-loss CD19-negative relapse xenograft model, we determined that CART123, but not CART19, recognized leukemic blasts, established protracted synapses, and eradicated CD19-negative leukemia, leading to prolonged survival. Furthermore, combining CART19 and CART123 prevented antigen-loss relapses in xenograft models. Finally, we devised a dual CAR-expressing construct that combined CD19- and CD123-mediated T cell activation and demonstrated that it provides superior in vivo activity against B-ALL compared with single-expressing CART or pooled combination CART. In conclusion, these findings indicate that targeting CD19 and CD123 on leukemic blasts represents an effective strategy for treating and preventing antigen-loss relapses occurring after CD19-directed therapies.
Project description:The bispecific T-cell engager blinatumomab targeting CD19 can induce complete remission in relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). However, some patients ultimately relapse with loss of CD19 antigen on leukemic cells, which has been established as a novel mechanism to escape CD19-specific immunotherapies. Here, we provide evidence that CD19-negative (CD19-) relapse after CD19-directed therapy in BCP-ALL may be a result of the selection of preexisting CD19- malignant progenitor cells. We present 2 BCR-ABL1 fusion-positive BCP-ALL patients with CD19- myeloid lineage relapse after blinatumomab therapy and show BCR-ABL1 positivity in their hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)/progenitor/myeloid compartments at initial diagnosis by fluorescence in situ hybridization after cell sorting. By using the same approach with 25 additional diagnostic samples from patients with BCR-ABL1-positive BCP-ALL, we identified HSC involvement in 40% of the patients. Patients (6 of 8) with major BCR-ABL1 transcript encoding P210BCR-ABL1 mainly showed HSC involvement, whereas in most of the patients (9 of 12) with minor BCR-ABL1 transcript encoding P190BCR-ABL1, only the CD19+ leukemia compartments were BCR-ABL1 positive (P = .02). Our data are of clinical importance, because they indicate that both CD19+ cells and CD19- precursors should be targeted to avoid CD19- relapses in patients with BCR-ABL1-positive ALL.
Project description:T-cell immunotherapies are promising options in relapsed/refractory B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We investigated the effect of co-signaling molecules on T-cell attack against leukemia mediated by CD19/CD3-bispecific T-cell engager. Primary CD19+ ALL blasts (n?10) and physiologic CD19+CD10+ bone marrow precursors were screened for 20 co-signaling molecules. PD-L1, PD-1, LAG-3, CD40, CD86, CD27, CD70 and HVEM revealed different stimulatory and inhibitory profiles of pediatric ALL compared to physiologic cells, with PD-L1 and CD86 as most prominent inhibitory and stimulatory markers. PD-L1 was increased in relapsed ALL patients (n=11) and in ALLs refractory to Blinatumomab (n=5). Exhaustion markers (PD-1, TIM-3) were significantly higher on patients' T cells compared to physiologic controls. T-cell proliferation and effector function was target-cell dependent and correlated to expression of co-signaling molecules. Blockade of inhibitory PD-1-PD-L and CTLA-4-CD80/86 pathways enhanced T-cell function whereas blockade of co-stimulatory CD28-CD80/86 interaction significantly reduced T-cell function. Combination of Blinatumomab and anti-PD-1 antibody was feasible and induced an anti-leukemic in vivo response in a 12-year-old patient with refractory ALL. In conclusion, ALL cells actively regulate T-cell function by expression of co-signaling molecules and modify efficacy of therapeutic T-cell attack against ALL. Inhibitory interactions of leukemia-induced checkpoint molecules can guide future T-cell therapies.
Project description:Targeted therapy has been the forefront of cancer treatment. Cancer immunotherapy is the most recent focus. In addition, novel immunotherapeutics targeting B cell receptor signaling (e.g., ibrutinib), T cell receptor ( e.g., CART19), and NK cells (e.g., AFM13) are being developed. This review summarized the new development in blinatumomab (MT103/MEDI-538), a first-in-class bispecific T engager (BiTE) antibody against CD19/CD3 in patients with relapsed/refractory precursor B cell acute lymphoid leukemia.
Project description:The B cell surface antigen CD19 is a target for treating B cell malignancies, such as B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia and B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The BiTE® immuno-oncology platform includes blinatumomab, which is approved for relapsed/refractory B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia and B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia with minimal residual disease. Blinatumomab is also being evaluated in combination with other agents (tyrosine kinase inhibitors, checkpoint inhibitors, and chemotherapy) in various treatment settings, including frontline protocols. An extended half-life BiTE molecule is also under investigation. Patients receiving blinatumomab may experience cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity; however, these events may be less frequent and severe than in patients receiving other CD19-targeted immunotherapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy. We review BiTE technology for treating malignancies that express CD19, analyzing the benefits and limitations of this bispecific T cell engager platform from clinical experience with blinatumomab.
Project description:Tisagenlecleucel, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell product targeting CD19 is approved for relapsed/refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). However, the impact of pretreatment variables, such as CD19 expression level, on leukemic blasts, the presence of CD19- subpopulations, and especially prior CD19-targeted therapy, on the response to CAR T-cell therapy has not been determined. We analyzed 166 patients treated with CAR T-cell therapy at our institution. Eleven patients did not achieve a minimal residual disease (MRD)- deep remission, whereas 67 patients had a recurrence after achieving a MRD- deep remission: 28 patients with CD19+ leukemia and 39 patients with CD19- leukemia. Return of CD19+ leukemia was associated with loss of CAR T-cell function, whereas CD19- leukemia was associated with continued CAR T-cell function. There were no significant differences in efficacy of CAR T cells in CD19-dim B-ALL, compared with CD19-normal or -bright B-ALL. Consistent with this, CAR T cells recognized and lysed cells with very low levels of CD19 expression in vitro. The presence of dim CD19 or rare CD19- events by flow cytometry did not predict nonresponse or recurrence after CAR T-cell therapy. However, prior therapy with the CD19-directed, bispecific T-cell engager blinatumomab was associated with a significantly higher rate of failure to achieve MRD- remission or subsequent loss of remission with antigen escape. Finally, immunophenotypic heterogeneity and lineage plasticity were independent of underlying clonotype and cytogenetic abnormalities.
Project description:Immunotherapies have been successfully developed for the treatment of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) with FDA approval of blinatumomab, inotuzumab, and tisagenlecleucel for relapsed or refractory patients. These agents target either CD19 or CD22, which are both expressed on the surface of the leukemic blasts in the majority of patients. The use of these agents has greatly transformed the landscape of available treatment, and it has provided curative therapy in some patients. As the field has matured, we are learning that for most patients, the currently available immunotherapies are not curative. Leukemic resistance to both CD19 and CD22 pressure has been described and is a major component of developed resistance to these therapies. Patients with B-ALL have developed CD19- or CD22-negative B-ALL, and in more rare cases, they have undergone lineage switch to acute myeloid leukemia. Current efforts are focusing on overcoming antigen escape, either by forced antigen expression or by dual-targeting therapies. A functional immune system is also required for maximal benefit of immunotherapy, particularly with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies. Data are now being produced that may allow for the prospective identification of patients whose immune deficits may be identified up front and predict failure. Preclinical work is focusing on additional engineering of CAR T cells to overcome these inherent immune deficits. Last, with improved knowledge of which patients are likely to benefit from immunotherapy as definitive treatment, those patients who are predicted to develop resistance may be prospectively recommended to undergo a consolidative hematopoietic cell transplant to lessen the recurrence risk.
Project description:The Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib induces high rates of clinical response in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, there remains a need for adjunct treatments to deepen response and to overcome drug resistance. Blinatumomab, a CD19/CD3 bispecific antibody (bsAb) designed in the BiTE (bispecific T-cell engager) format, is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Because of its short half-life of 2.1 hours, blinatumomab requires continuous intravenous dosing for efficacy. We developed a novel CD19/CD3 bsAb in the single-chain Fv-Fc format (CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc) with a half-life of ∼5 days. In in vitro experiments, both CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc and blinatumomab induced >90% killing of CLL cells from treatment-naïve patients. Antileukemic activity was associated with increased autologous CD8 and CD4 T-cell proliferation, activation, and granzyme B expression. In the NOD/SCID/IL2Rγnull patient-derived xenograft mouse model, once-weekly treatment with CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc eliminated >98% of treatment-naïve CLL cells in blood and spleen. By contrast, blinatumomab failed to induce a response, even when administered daily. We next explored the activity of CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc in the context of ibrutinib treatment and ibrutinib resistance. CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc induced more rapid killing of CLL cells from ibrutinib-treated patients than those from treatment-naïve patients. CD19/CD3-scFv-Fc also demonstrated potent activity against CLL cells from patients with acquired ibrutinib-resistance harboring BTK and/or PLCG2 mutations in vitro and in vivo using patient-derived xenograft models. Taken together, these data support investigation of CD19/CD3 bsAb's and other T cell-recruiting bsAb's as immunotherapies for CLL, especially in combination with ibrutinib or as rescue therapy in ibrutinib-resistant disease.
Project description:Patients with refractory or relapsed (R/R) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have a dismal prognosis of around 5% long-term survival when treated with cytotoxic chemotherapy and allogenic stem cell transplantation. T-cell immunobased strategies open up new therapeutic perspectives. Blinatumomab is the first of a new class of antibody constructs that was labeled bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE): it consists of two single chain variable fragment connected with a flexible linker, one side binding CD3, the other CD19. The tight binding and the close proximity to the CD19-positive B-cells and leukemic cells leads to non-major histocompatibility complex-restricted T-cell activation, polyclonal T-cell expansion and direct target cell killing. Applied by continuous infusion, blinatumomab achieves morphological complete response rates ranging from 39% to 69% in R/R ALL patients (compared to 25% after second-line chemotherapy) with prolonged overall survival (blinatumomab median overall survival, 7.7 months vs chemotherapy, 4.0 months). In comparison to conventional cytotoxic second-line protocols blinatumomab has a favorable safety profile. The main adverse event is related to the mode of action of blinatumomab: the induction of a cytokine-release syndrome that can be managed by interruption and/or the application of steroids or tocilizumab. Another typical complication is the occurrence of neurological side effects, such as seizures and encephalopathy. This neurotoxicity is reversible after application of steroids and/or withdrawal of blinatumomab. Blinatumomab has proven to be a powerful therapeutic option in R/R ALL patients both adult and pediatric because of its efficacy and limited toxicity.
Project description:The CD19 marker is expressed on the surface of normal and malignant immature or mature B-cells. On the other hand, immunotherapy involving T-cells is a promising modality of treatment for many neoplastic diseases including leukemias and lymphomas. The CD19/CD3-bispecific T-cell-engaging (BiTE(®)) monoclonal antibody blinatumomab can transiently engage cytotoxic T-cells to CD19+ target B-cells inducing serial perforin-mediated lysis. In the first clinical trial, blinatumomab showed efficacy in non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, but the most important trials have been conducted in relapsed/refractory (R/R) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and in ALL with minimal residual disease. Encouraging reports on the activity of blinatumomab in R/R Philadelphia chromosome-negative B-cell precursor ALL led to its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration on December 3, 2014 after an accelerated review process. This review focuses on the profile of blinatumomab and its activity in R/R ALL.