Novartis has secured the European Commission (EC) approval for its CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) for the treatment of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
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).
Novartis Oncology CEO Liz Barrett said: “The Kymriah approval is a transformational milestone for patients in Europe in need of new treatment options.
“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.
Penn department of pathology and laboratory medicine immunotherapy professor and Center for Cellular Immunotherapies director Richard Vague said: “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.
“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.
ELIANA study principal investigator Peter Bader said: “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.”
Both B-cell ALL and DLBCL are aggressive malignancies with significant treatment gaps for patients. In Europe, ALL accounts for approximately 80% of leukemia cases among children, and for patients who relapse from standard of care therapies, the outlook is poor.
This low survival rate is in spite of patients having to undergo multiple treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy or stem cell transplant, and further highlights the need for new treatment options. DLBCL is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, accounting for up to 40% of all cases globally.
For patients who relapse or don’t respond to initial therapy, there are limited treatment options that provide durable responses, and survival rates are low for the majority of patients due to ineligibility for autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) or because salvage chemotherapy or ASCT have failed.
Novartis expects to launch initially in the pediatric ALL indication, as we continue to ramp up capacity. Moreover, timing for Kymriah availability in each country will depend on multiple factors, including the onboarding of qualified treatment centers for the appropriate indications, as well as the completion of national reimbursement procedures.
Training is already underway at key qualified treatment centers to facilitate safe and seamless delivery to patients; and Novartis continues to collaborate with national health and reimbursement authorities across Europe on a fair, value-based pricing approach that is sustainable for national healthcare systems.
As this innovative treatment is made available to more patients globally, Novartis has been actively pursuing options to expand manufacturing capabilities beyond our facility in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
This includes our agreement with CELLforCURE, based in France and one of the first and largest contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) producing cell and gene therapies in Europe, the expanded alliance with Fraunhofer Institute – which currently supports the manufacturing of Kymriah for global clinical trials and for post approval manufacturing –, as well as technology transfer efforts to a CDMO in Japan.
Source: Company Press Release