We developed a T-cell-receptor (TCR) complex-based chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) named Synthetic TCR and Antigen Receptor (STAR). Here, we report pre-clinical and phase I clinical trial data (NCT03953599) of this T-cell therapy for refractory and relapsed (R/R) B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) patients. STAR consists of two protein modules each containing an antibody light or heavy chain variable region and TCR α or β chain constant region fused to the co-stimulatory domain of OX40. T-cells were transduced with a STAR-OX40 lentiviral vector. A leukemia xenograft mouse model was used to assess the STAR/STAR-OX40 T cell antitumor activity. Eighteen patients with R/R B-ALL were enrolled into the clinical trial. In a xenograft mouse model, STAR-T-cells exhibited superior tumor-specific cytotoxicity compared with conventional CAR-T cells. Incorporating OX40 into STAR further improved the proliferation and persistence of tumor-targeting T-cells. In our clinical trial, 100% of patients achieved complete remission 4 weeks post-STAR-OX40 T-cell infusion and 16/18 (88.9%) patients pursued consolidative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). Twelve of 16 patients (75%) remained leukemia-free after a median follow-up of 545 (433-665) days. The two patients without consolidative allo-HSCT relapsed on Day 58 and Day 186. Mild cytokine release syndrome occurred in 10/18 (55.6%) patients, and 2 patients experienced grade III neurotoxicity. Our preclinical studies demonstrate super anti-tumor potency of STAR-OX40 T-cells compared with conventional CAR-T cells. The first-in-human clinical trial shows that STAR-OX40 T-cells are tolerable and an effective therapeutic platform for treating R/R B-ALL.
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