Five years later: CAR T therapy shows long-lasting remissions in non-Hodgkin lymphomas

Findings represent the longest follow-up data to date for a personalized cellular therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of aggressive lymphomas.

A significant number of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients in a Penn Medicine-initiated clinical trial continue to be in remission five years after receiving the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy Kymriah™, researchers in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings represent the longest follow-up, published data to date for CAR T cell therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas.

Cancer patient with IV drip and scarf in their hair looks out the window.

Among 24 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common form of NHL, who received the therapy after their cancers had come back following standard treatments, 46% achieved complete remission and 31% achieved progression-free survival at five years. Among 14 patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma, the second most common form of the disease, 71% achieved complete remission and 43% achieved progression-free survival at five years.

“We found that most of the patients who achieve a remission lasting one year remain in remission five years after being infused with CAR T cells. This is really exciting and demonstrates the durability of this approach,” says lead author Elise A. Chong, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology-oncology in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. “Patients who do not respond to chemotherapy have another option that may offer them long-lasting remissions.”

Co-authors of this research include senior author Stephen J. Schuster, the Robert and Margarita Louis-Dreyfus Professor in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinical Care and Research in the Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Lymphoma Program at the Abramson Cancer Center, and Marco Ruella, an assistant professor in hematology-oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine and scientific director of the Lymphoma Program.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.