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Richard T. Maziarz, MD
© ASH/Luke Franke 2018

SAN DIEGO—An updated analysis of the JULIET trial showed that tisagenlecleucel produced a high rate of durable responses in adults with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

After a median follow-up of 19 months, two-thirds of adults with relapsed/refractory DLBCL who had early responses to the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy remained in remission with no evidence of minimal residual disease.

“Since the previous report, no new deaths have been reported due to any cause other than patient disease progression, no treatment-related mortality was seen throughout the study, and there were three early deaths, all related to lymphoma that progressed,” said study investigator Richard Thomas Maziarz, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute in Portland.

Dr. Maziarz and his colleagues reported the updated study results at the 2018 ASH Annual Meeting (abstract 1684). Results were published simultaneously in The New England Journal of Medicine. Data reported here are based on the ASH data.


In the phase 2, single-arm trial, investigators enrolled adults with DLBCL who had relapsed or were refractory after two or more prior lines of therapy and who were either ineligible for hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) or who experienced disease progression after HSCT.

Interim results of the study were previously reported at the 22nd Congress of the European Hematology Association in 2017.

At that meeting, Gilles Salles, MD, PhD, of the University of Lyon in France, presented results of an analysis of available efficacy data on 51 patients with at least 3 months of follow-up.

In this population, the best overall response rate (ORR) was 59%. Three-month ORR was 45%, consisting of 37% complete responses (CR) and 8% partial responses (PR).

Relapse-free survival at 6 months was 79%, and all patients who had responses at 3 months continued to have responses at the time of data cutoff.


The current analysis was completed after a median time from infusion to data cutoff of 19 months as of May 21, 2018. The analysis included 115 patients who received CAR T-cell infusions, 99 of whom were evaluable for efficacy.

As reported at ASH, the best ORR, the primary endpoint, was 54%, comprised of 40% CR and 13% PR.

Fifty-four percent of patients who had achieved PR converted to CR.

The response rates were consistent across all subgroups, regardless of age, sex, previous response status, International Prognostic Index score at enrollment, prior therapy, molecular subtype, and other factors.

Estimated relapse-free survival 12 months after documentation of an initial response was 64%.

The median duration of response had not been reached at the time of data cutoff, and the median overall survival had not been reached for patients with a CR.

Median overall survival in this heavily pretreated population as a whole (all patients who received CAR T-cell infusions) was 11.1 months and not reached for patients in CR.

Adverse events of special interest included grade 3 or 4 cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in 23% of patients, prolonged cytopenia in 34%, infections in 19%, neurologic events in 11%, febrile neutropenia in 15%, and tumor lysis syndrome in 2%.

There were no deaths attributable to the treatment, CRS, or to cerebral edema, a complication of CAR T-cell therapy that appears to be related to the costimulatory molecule used in various constructs.

The JULIET trial is supported by Novartis. Dr. Maziarz disclosed honoraria, consultancy fees, and/or research funding from Novartis, Incyte, Juno Therapeutics, and Kite Therapeutics as well as patents/royalties from Athersys, Inc. 

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