Taming the beast: CRS and ICANS after CAR T-cell therapy for ALL

Vipul S Sheth, Jordan Gauthier
Bone Marrow Transplantation 2020 November 24
Treatment with CD19 or CD22-targeted chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CD19/CD22 CAR-T) cells achieve complete responses in 60-90% of adults and children with refractory or relapsed (R/R) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This led to the approval of tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) by the FDA and several European regulatory agencies in ALL patients up to 25 years of age. Although CAR T-cell therapy is likely to transform the ALL therapeutic landscape, its development and wide dissemination have been impacted by the occurrence of significant toxicities; namely, cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and Immune effector cell-Associated Neurotoxicity Syndrome (ICANS) have been reported at higher rates in ALL patients compared to other B cell malignancies, particularly in the adult population. Here, we review recent data suggesting a significant proportion of ALL patients are at risk of developing severe, sometimes life-threatening, CRS, and ICANS after CD19 and CD22 CAR T-cell therapy. After describing the key clinical and laboratory features of severe CRS and ICANS, we explore the disease and treatment-related factors that may predict the severity of these toxicities. Last, we review strategies under investigation in the prophylactic and therapeutic settings to improve the safety of CAR T-cells for ALL.

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