Novartis today announced that the European Commission (EC) has approved Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel, formerly CTL019). The approved indications are for the treatment of pediatric and young adult patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory, in relapse post-transplant or in second or later relapse; and for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) after two or more lines of systemic therapy. Kymriah developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is a ground-breaking one-time treatment that uses a patient’s own T cells to fight cancer, and the only chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy to receive regulatory approval in the EU for these two distinct B-cell malignancies. Kymriah was also the first CAR-T cell therapy ever approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The Kymriah approval is a transformational milestone for patients in Europe in need of new treatment options,” said Liz Barrett, CEO, Novartis Oncology. “Novartis will continue to build a global infrastructure for delivering CAR-T cell therapies where none existed before remaining steadfast in our goal of reimagining cancer.”
Kymriah, a cell dispersion for infusion with doses varying between 1.2 x 106 6 x 108 CAR- positive viable T cells, is a living medicinal product, manufactured individually for each patient by reprogramming the patient’s own immune system cells. Kymriah is the only approved CAR-T cell therapy built using the 4-1BB costimulatory domain, which is critical for full activation of the therapy, enhancement of cellular expansion and durable persistence of the cancer-fighting cells.
This approval was based on the review of the only two global registration CAR-T clinical trials, JULIET and ELIANA, which included patients from eight European countries. In these trials, Kymriah demonstrated strong and durable response rates and a consistent safety profile in two difficult-to-treat patient populations. In 2012, Novartis and Penn entered into a global collaboration to further research, develop and commercialize CAR-T cell therapies, including Kymriah, for the investigational treatment of cancers. This collaboration between industry and academia was the first-of-its-kind in CAR-T research and development.
“When the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis agreed to work together to develop CAR-T therapy, our main goal was clear and ambitious to address unmet needs for patients and to extend, improve and save lives,” said Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn and Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center. “We are proud that our efforts in CAR-T now offer the European blood cancer community a breakthrough that brings new hope.”
Kymriah was designated as an orphan medicinal product and is one of the first PRIME-designated therapies to receive EU approval; PRIME (PRIority MEdicines) is a program launched by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to enhance support for the development of medicines that target an unmet medical need and help patients benefit as early as possible from therapies that may significantly improve their quality of life.
“Bringing Kymriah to patients in the EU advances the treatment paradigm in an unprecedented way and delivers a lifesaving therapy to young patients with ALL who have not been successfully treated with existing therapies, and who have limited options left,” said Prof. Peter Bader, Head of the Division for Stem Cell Transplantation and Immunology and Principal Investigator of the ELIANA study at the University Hospital for Children and Adolescents in Frankfurt/Main.