CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy. It is a very complex and specialist treatment that makes small changes to your T cells. It is given as a drip into your bloodstream. The CAR T-cells then find and attack cancer cells.

There is a high unmet need for patients with previously treated kidney cancer. These patients have limited treatment options following treatment with immunotherapy and TKIs.

In a recent phase 1 study, a CAR T-cell therapy, called ALLO-316, showed signs of activity against advanced or metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in patients who had been previously treated. ALLO-316 was well tolerated by patients with RCC.

Because this was an early phase study that was looking for the best dose of ALLO-316 to use in cancer patients, there were only 18 patients who were assessed for the effectiveness of the treatment. All patients had been previously treated with immunotherapy and/or TKIs. After an average of nearly 8 months follow-up, ALLO-316 controlled the cancer in 89% of patients.

The treatment seemed to work better in patients with the CD70 protein on their T cells. Of the 10 patients who were CD70-positive, 3 patients had a partial response to treatment and the cancer was controlled in all 10 of these patients. In this group, the average time to when the treatment stopped working and the cancer started growing again was 5 months.

The treatment seemed to be well tolerated with only one patient having to limit their dose because of side effects (severe autoimmune liver disease). Two patients had severe side effects (fainting and fatigue) and one patient died due to respiratory failure from COVID-19 infection, which was unrelated to the study treatment.

CD70 positive T cells are promising targets for CAR T-cell therapy, since this protein is found in up to 80% of patients with RCC and it is rarely found in normal non-cancerous tissue.

The researchers said: “CD70 for this disease is a very interesting target, but the target needs to be expressed; otherwise, I don’t think we should expose these patients to this drug. It seems to be safe at least with these dose cohorts, although we have to carefully look at opportunistic infections. Clinical benefit was seen, [and] objective responses are seen in refractory patients. We do see expansion and persistence of the cells. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with higher doses.”

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