Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
This phase I study investigated the safety and activity of lentiviral-transduced chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified autologous T cells redirected against mesothelin (CART-meso) in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, ovarian carcinoma, and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Fifteen patients with chemotherapy-refractory cancer (n = 5 per indication) were treated with a single CART-meso cell infusion. CART-meso cells were engineered by lentiviral transduction with a construct composed of the anti-mesothelin single-chain variable fragment derived from the mouse monoclonal antibody SS1 fused to intracellular signaling domains of 4-1BB and CD3zeta. Patients received 1-3 × 107 or 1-3 × 108 CART-meso cells/m2 with or without 1.5 g/m2 cyclophosphamide. Lentiviral-transduced CART-meso cells were well tolerated; one dose-limiting toxicity (grade 4, sepsis) occurred at 1-3 × 107/m2 CART-meso without cyclophosphamide. The best overall response was stable disease (11/15 patients). CART-meso cells expanded in the blood and reached peak levels by days 6-14 but persisted transiently. Cyclophosphamide pre-treatment enhanced CART-meso expansion but did not improve persistence beyond 28 days. CART-meso DNA was detected in 7/10 tumor biopsies. Human anti-chimeric antibodies (HACA) were detected in the blood of 8/14 patients. CART-meso cells were well tolerated and expanded in the blood of all patients but showed limited clinical activity. Studies evaluating a fully human anti-mesothelin CAR are ongoing.