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Transforming CLL management with immunotherapy: Investigating the potential of CAR T-cells and bispecific antibodies.

Seminars in Hematology 2024 January 6
Immunotherapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy and bispecific antibodies or T-cell engagers, have revolutionized the treatment landscape for various B-cell malignancies, including B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia and many non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Despite their significant impact on these malignancies, their application in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) management is still largely under investigation. Although the initial success of CD19-directed CAR T-cell therapy was observed in 3 multiply relapsed CLL patients, with 2 of them surviving over 10 years without relapse, recent CAR T-cell therapy trials in CLL have shown reduced response rates compared to their efficacy in other B-cell malignancies. One of the challenges with using immunotherapy in CLL is the compromised T-cell fitness from persistent CLL-related antigenic stimulation, and an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). These challenges underscore a critical gap in therapeutic options for CLL patients intolerant or resistant to current therapies, emphasizing the imperative role of effective immunotherapy. Encouragingly, innovative strategies are emerging to overcome these challenges. These include integrating synergistic agents like ibrutinib to enhance CAR T-cell function and persistence and engineering newer CAR T-cell constructs targeting diverse antigens or employing dual-targeting approaches. Bispecific antibodies are an exciting "off-the-shelf" prospect for these patients, with their investigation in CLL currently entering the realm of clinical trials. Additionally, the development of allogeneic CAR T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells from healthy donors presents a promising solution to address the diminished T-cell fitness observed in CLL patients. This comprehensive review delves into the latest insights regarding the role of immunotherapy in CLL, the complex landscape of resistance mechanisms, and a spectrum of innovative approaches to surmount therapeutic challenges.

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