Updated data for the world's first T-cell therapy, Novartis' Kymriah, show that it produced long-lasting remissions in adults with an aggressive form of lymphoma who had relapsed after standard treatments.
Kymriah, developed with the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, was originally approved for a form of pediatric leukemia, a blood cancer. In May, approval was expanded to treat diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. DLBCL is the most common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.
The updated data, to be presented Saturday at a hematology conference, are from the global clinical trial in 10 countries. Of 99 patients treated with Kymriah, 40 percent saw their lymphoma completely disappear, mirroring earlier results in fewer patients. Although the patients had not been followed long enough to determine the durability of the remissions, trend data indicated that 64 percent would still be cancer-free at 18 months.
Although most of the 27,000 U.S. patients diagnosed each year with DLBCL are cured with conventional treatments, an estimated 6,500 exhaust those options.
Kymriah, or tisagenlecleucel, is made by siphoning a patient's T cells from the blood, genetically programming these immune soldier cells to attack malignant blood cells, then returning them to the patient. For DLBCL, Novartis set the price at $373,000, but that does not include hospitalization to give the therapy and treat serious side effects that commonly occur.