Peter Mac is at the fore of two major clinical trials which assessed CAR T-cell therapy as a treatment for aggressive B-cell blood cancers.

Results of both the ZUMA-7 and BELINDA trials were presented this week at the global American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference.

These Phase III trials assessed different CAR T-cell therapies – Yescarta in the ZUMA-7 trial, Kymriah in the BELINDA trial – and each involved patients whose aggressive B-cell lymphomas were progressing within a year of receiving a first-line treatment.

Yescarta was found to offer “significant improvements, as compared with standard care” with 83% of the CAR T-treated patients responding to the therapy compared to 50% who received the standard second-line treatment. The event-free survival at two years was 41% and 16% respectively.

Kymriah was “not superior to the standard salvage therapy” though “additional studies are needed to assess which patients may obtain the most benefit from each approach”.

Associate Professor Michael Dickinson, Lead of the Aggressive Lymphoma disease group within Clinical Haematology at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, recruited patients into either trial was a co-author on both papers.

“These trials have given us important information about the potential benefits of CAR-T-cell therapy in aggressive B-cell lymphoma, and avenues for future research, in a patient group for which prognosis is poor and we need additional clinical options,” Associate Professor Dickinson says.

In addition to the results being presented at the 63rd annual ASH conference, corresponding papers and a related editorial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

CAR T-cell therapy is a once-off, individualised treatment that uses the patient’s own reprogrammed T-cells to fight their cancer. Peter Mac performed Australia’s first CAR T-cell clinical trial in 2007 and has since pioneered this therapy, and is Australia’s only onshore manufacturer of CAR-T products.

Read the NEJM papers:

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About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.