A phase I trial of regional mesothelin-targeted CAR T-cell therapy in patients with malignant pleural disease, in combination with the anti-PD-1 agent pembrolizumab

Cancer Discov. 2021 Jul 15;candisc.0407.2021. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0407. Online ahead of print.


Malignant pleural diseases, comprising metastatic lung and breast cancers and malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), are aggressive solid tumors with poor therapeutic response. We developed and conducted a first-in-human, phase I study of regionally delivered, autologous, mesothelin-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Intrapleural administration of 0.3M-60M CAR T cells/kg in 27 patients (25 with MPM) was safe and well tolerated. CAR T-cells were detected in peripheral blood for >100 days in 39% of patients. Following our demonstration that PD-1 blockade enhances CAR T-cell function in mice, 18 patients with MPM also received pembrolizumab safely. Among those patients, median overall survival from CAR T-cell infusion was 23.9 months (1-year overall survival, 83%). Stable disease was sustained for {greater than or equal to}6 months in 8 patients; 2 exhibited complete metabolic response on PET scan. Combination immunotherapy with CAR T cells and PD-1 blockade agents should be further evaluated in patients with solid tumors.