Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools
Relapse after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HCT) is the leading cause of death in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Infusions of unselected donor lymphocytes (DLIs) are used to enhance the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect, as treatment for relapsed disease. However, as the infused lymphocytes are not selected for leukemia-specificity, the GVL effect is often accompanied by life-threatening graft-versus-host disease(GVHD) due to the concurrent transfer of allo-reactive lymphocytes. Thus, to minimize GVHD and maximize GVL we selectively activated and expanded stem-cell donor-derived T cells that were reactive to multiple antigens expressed by AML/MDS cells (PRAME, WT1, Survivin, NY-ESO-1). Products were successfully generated from 29 HCT donors, and they demonstrated multi-leukemia antigen specificity (mLSTs). In contrast to DLIs, mLSTs selectively recognized and killed leukemia-antigen-pulsed cells with no activity against recipient-derived normal cells in vitro. We have now administered escalating doses of these mLSTs (0.5-10x107 cells/m2) to 25 trial enrollees with AML/MDS after HCT, 17 of whom were at high risk for relapse and 8 of whom had relapsed disease. Infusions were well tolerated with no grade >2 acute or extensive chronic GVHD up to a dose of 10x107 cells/m2. We observed anti-leukemia effects in vivo that translated into not yet reached median LFS and OS at 1.9 years of follow-up among survivors, evidence of sustained immune pressure and objective responses in the active disease cohort (1 CR and 1 PR). In conclusion, mLSTs are safe and promising for the prevention or treatment of AML/MDS following HCT.