New Results from Novartis in the Race to Launch the First CAR-T

Novartis has announced an update on the performance of CTL019, a CAR-T therapy against leukemia with the potential to be the first on the market. 

Last Saturday, at the European Hematology Association (EHA) Annual Meeting, Novartis presented last Saturday follow-up results from its ongoing CAR-T trial ELIANA, in which the candidate CTL019 is being tested in patients with relapsed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The data shows that the therapy maintained 83% out of 72 patients in complete remission six months after being treated with the experimental therapy.

Previous results had indicated that the therapy could achieve remission in 82% of patients in just three months, but confirming the effects can be sustained over time is essential for the success of the therapy. Novartis has already filed for the approval of CTL019 with the FDA, which has granted it priority review, and is planning to file with the EMA later this year.

But despite the huge potential of CAR-T as a cure for cancer, side effects are still a big concern. The results released by Novartis reveal that 40% of patients experienced cytokine release syndrome, a severe complication that has led to several deaths in CAR-T trials run by Novartis’ US competitors Juno Therapeutics and Kite Pharma.

Image via Giovanni Cancemi / Shutterstock

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