Kite and Humanigen Announce Clinical Collaboration to Evaluate Investigational Combination of Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) With lenzilumab in Relapsed/Refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
-- Phase 1/2 Multi-Center Clinical Trial to Begin Enrolling in Q4 2019 --
SANTA MONICA, Calif. and BURLINGAME, Calif., May 31, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kite, a Gilead Company (Nasdaq: GILD) and Humanigen, Inc., (HGEN) announced today the formation of a clinical collaboration to conduct a Phase 1/2 study of lenzilumab, an investigational anti-GM-CSF monoclonal antibody, with Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The objective of this study is to determine the effect of lenzilumab on the safety of Yescarta. Kite will act as the sponsor of this study and will be responsible for its conduct.
GM-CSF has been identified, through clinical correlative analysis and preclinical modeling, as a potential key signal in the inflammatory cascade triggering toxicities associated with chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy.1 Toxicities associated with CAR T therapy include neurologic toxicity and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Emerging pre-clinical evidence suggests that lenzilumab inhibition of GM-CSF may have the potential to disrupt CAR T cell mediated inflammation without disrupting CAR T cell anti-tumor efficacy.
“CAR T therapy represents a significant advance in the way relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma is treated,” said John McHutchison, AO, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Head of Research and Development, Gilead. “As leaders in cell therapy, we are committed to pursuing a number of clinical and preclinical strategies aimed at further improving the efficacy and safety of CAR T therapy. We look forward to this clinical collaboration with Humanigen and to evaluating the combination of lenzilumab and Yescarta in our clinical trial.”
1 Sterner, R., Sakemura, R., Cox, M., Yang, N., Khadka, R., Forsman, C.,… Kenderian, S. (2019).
“Humanigen has pioneered the approach to neutralizing GM-CSF to improve CAR T,” said Cameron Durrant, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Humanigen. “This collaboration with Kite will help validate the work Humanigen has done in understanding the pathophysiology of the inflammatory cascade as well as the potential role GM-CSF plays in influencing CAR T cell treatment outcomes.”
Yescarta was the first CAR T cell therapy to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy, including DLBCL not otherwise specified, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, and high grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma. Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. The Yescarta U.S. Prescribing Information has a BOXED WARNING for the risks of cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicities; see below for Important Safety Information.
Lenzilumab, alone or in combination with other therapies such as Yescarta, is investigational and has not been approved by the FDA or any regulatory authority for any uses. Efficacy and safety have not yet been established.
Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated acted as exclusive financial advisor to Humanigen in this transaction.
U.S. Important Safety Information for Yescarta
CYTOKINE RELEASE SYNDROME (CRS): CRS occurred in 94% of patients, including 13% with ≥ Grade 3. Among patients who died after receiving Yescarta, 4 had ongoing CRS at death. The median time to onset was 2 days (range: 1-12 days) and median duration was 7 days (range: 2-58 days). Key manifestations include fever (78%), hypotension (41%), tachycardia (28%), hypoxia (22%), and chills (20%). Serious events that may be associated with CRS include cardiac arrhythmias (including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia), cardiac arrest, cardiac failure, renal insufficiency, capillary leak syndrome, hypotension, hypoxia, and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis/macrophage activation syndrome. Ensure that 2 doses of tocilizumab are available prior to infusion of Yescarta. Monitor patients at least daily for 7 days at the certified healthcare facility following infusion for signs and symptoms of CRS. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of CRS for 4 weeks after infusion. Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms of CRS occur at any time. At the first sign of CRS, institute treatment with supportive care, tocilizumab or tocilizumab and corticosteroids as indicated.
NEUROLOGIC TOXICITIES: Neurologic toxicities occurred in 87% of patients. Ninety-eight percent of all neurologic toxicities occurred within the first 8 weeks, with a median time to onset of 4 days (range: 1-43 days) and a median duration of 17 days. Grade 3 or higher occurred in 31% of patients. The most common neurologic toxicities included encephalopathy (57%), headache (44%), tremor (31%), dizziness (21%), aphasia (18%), delirium (17%), insomnia (9%) and anxiety (9%). Prolonged encephalopathy lasting up to 173 days was noted. Serious events including leukoencephalopathy and seizures occurred with Yescarta. Fatal and serious cases of cerebral edema have occurred in patients treated with Yescarta. Monitor patients at least daily for 7 days at the certified healthcare facility following infusion for signs and symptoms of neurologic toxicities. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of neurologic toxicities for 4 weeks after infusion and treat promptly.
YESCARTA REMS: Because of the risk of CRS and neurologic toxicities, Yescarta is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Yescarta REMS. The required components of the Yescarta REMS are: Healthcare facilities that dispense and administer Yescarta must be enrolled and comply with the REMS requirements. Certified healthcare facilities must have on-site, immediate access to tocilizumab, and ensure that a minimum of 2 doses of tocilizumab are available for each patient for infusion within 2 hours after Yescarta infusion, if needed for treatment of CRS. Certified healthcare facilities must ensure that healthcare providers who prescribe, dispense or administer Yescarta are trained about the management of CRS and neurologic toxicities. Further information is available at www.YESCARTAREMS.com or 1-844-454-KITE (5483).
HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTIONS: Allergic reactions may occur. Serious hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis may be due to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or residual gentamicin in Yescarta.
SERIOUS INFECTIONS: Severe or life-threatening infections occurred. Infections (all grades) occurred in 38% of patients, and in 23% with ≥ Grade 3. Grade 3 or higher infections with an unspecified pathogen occurred in 16% of patients, bacterial infections in 9%, and viral infections in 4%. Yescarta should not be administered to patients with clinically significant active systemic infections. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection before and after Yescarta infusion and treat appropriately. Administer prophylactic anti-microbials according to local guidelines. Febrile neutropenia was observed in 36% of patients and may be concurrent with CRS. In the event of febrile neutropenia, evaluate for infection and manage with broad spectrum antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care as medically indicated. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation, in some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure and death, can occur in patients treated with drugs directed against B cells. Perform screening for HBV, HCV, and HIV in accordance with clinical guidelines before collection of cells for manufacturing.
PROLONGED CYTOPENIAS: Patients may exhibit cytopenias for several weeks following lymphodepleting chemotherapy and Yescarta infusion. Grade 3 or higher cytopenias not resolved by Day 30 following Yescarta infusion occurred in 28% of patients and included thrombocytopenia (18%), neutropenia (15%), and anemia (3%). Monitor blood counts after Yescarta infusion.
HYPOGAMMAGLOBULINEMIA: B-cell aplasia and hypogammaglobulinemia can occur. Hypogammaglobulinemia occurred in 15% of patients. Monitor immunoglobulin levels after treatment and manage using infection precautions, antibiotic prophylaxis and immunoglobulin replacement. The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines during or following Yescarta treatment has not been studied. Vaccination with live virus vaccines is not recommended for at least 6 weeks prior to the start of lymphodepleting chemotherapy, during Yescarta treatment, and until immune recovery following treatment.
SECONDARY MALIGNANCIES: Patients may develop secondary malignancies. Monitor life-long for secondary malignancies. In the event that a secondary malignancy occurs, contact Kite at 1-844-454-KITE (5483) to obtain instructions on patient samples to collect for testing.
EFFECTS ON ABILITY TO DRIVE AND USE MACHINES: Due to the potential for neurologic events, including altered mental status or seizures, patients are at risk for altered or decreased consciousness or coordination in the 8 weeks following Yescarta infusion. Advise patients to refrain from driving and engaging in hazardous occupations or activities, such as operating heavy or potentially dangerous machinery, during this initial period.
ADVERSE REACTIONS: The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 20%) include CRS, fever, hypotension, encephalopathy, tachycardia, fatigue, headache, decreased appetite, chills, diarrhea, febrile neutropenia, infections-pathogen unspecified, nausea, hypoxia, tremor, cough, vomiting, dizziness, constipation, and cardiac arrhythmias.
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