LA JOLLA, CALIF. (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – There are several biologic compounds in early clinical development for treatment of patients with T-cell lymphomas, including an antibody-drug conjugate, novel immune checkpoint inhibitor, and bi-specific antibody.

These investigational agents show promising single-agent activity and have the potential to improve clinical responses when combined with combination chemotherapy regimens or other treatments, Ahmed Sawas, MD , of the Center for Lymphoid Malignancies at Columbia University, New York, said at the annual T-cell Lymphoma Forum.

AGS67E: Antibody-drug conjugate

AGS67E is an antibody-drug conjugate targeted against CD37, a transmembrane protein preferentially expressed on malignant B cells, T cells, and acute myeloid leukemia cells. In a study published in 2015 in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, investigators from Agensys (an affiliate of Astellas Pharma) reported that this compound bound to more than 80% of patient-derived T cells in vitro ( Mol Cancer Ther. 2015;14[7]:1650-60 ).

In a phase 1 dose-escalation study reported at the 2017 International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma in Lugano, Switzerland, Dr. Sawas and his colleagues found that patients with B-cell and T-cell malignancies, including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and peripheral T-cell lymphoma, tolerated the drug well when it was delivered both with or without growth factor. Neutropenia was the most frequent adverse event and dose-limiting toxicity.

The drug showed single-agent activity in 16 of 53 patients with heavily pretreated non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including a partial response in one of two patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and partial responses in two of four patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma. There were no complete responses at any of three dose levels of the drug, with or without growth factor.

“Many of the patients were able to stay close to a year on treatment once they responded, and we have some patients that stayed beyond 2 years,” he said.

One patient, a 75-year-old man with stage IVB mycosis fungoides who had disease progression on prior therapy with methotrexate, romidepsin, bendamustine, whole-body irradiation, liposomal doxorubicin, pralatrexate, and pembrolizumab experienced significant reduction in tumor burden and resolution of lymph node involvement after three 3-week cycles of therapy with AGS67E. The patient had a deepening of the response with additional cycles, and remained on therapy for 30 cycles until he experienced disease progression.

TTI-621: Tuck in, macrophages

TT1-621 is a molecule with two functions: It acts as an immune checkpoint inhibitor by blocking CD47, which binds to signal-regulatory protein alpha to produce an antiphagocytic or “do not eat” signal. TTI-621 does not, however, bind to CD47-positive erythrocytes.

In addition to blocking CD47 and the do-not-eat signal, TTI-621 delivers an activating signal to macrophages through Fc gamma receptors, telling them, in effect, “bon appétit.”

In a study presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology ( Abstract 4076 ), investigators from City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., and other centers reported that a single direct intratumoral injection of TTI-621 was associated with significant antitumor activity in patients with relapsed or refractory mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome, with one of nine patients having a complete response in the injected lesion, and five having decreases in tumor size and/or circulating Sézary cells.

Patients appeared to tolerate this agent very well, with 1 of 18 having a grade 3 increase in white blood cell count. The most commonly reported side effects were fatigue, chills, decreased appetite, headache, injection site pain, and generalized pruritus, each occurring in 3 of the 18 patients.

TTI-621 injection was associated with rapid declines in Composite Assessment of Index Lesion Severity scores in dose-finding studies in patients with heavily pretreated cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Dr. Sawas said.

AFM13: Two for the price of one

AFM13 is a bi-specific antibody that binds to CD30, which is expressed on anaplastic large cell lymphoma cells, as well as Reed-Sternberg cells of classical Hodgkin lymphoma. This antibody also engages CD16A-positive cells, resulting in lysis of CD30-positive tumor cells. It is a specific recruiter of natural killer cells, and does not bind to neutrophils.

In an early biologic effects study of this agent in CD30-positive lymphoid malignancies with cutaneous presentation, Dr. Sawas and his colleagues observed an early response and regression of cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma lesions in a heavily pretreated patient, with progression occurring when the patient went off therapy, and tumors that diminished on reinitiation of therapy that sustained beyond a second discontinuation of therapy. This patient had measurable reductions in lymphoma burden on PET CT scans and improvements in cutaneous lesions. Dr. Sawas did not present safety data for this agent.

AGS67E studies are supported by Agensys. TTI-621 studies are supported by Trillium Therapeutics. The AFM13 study is supported by Columbia University, with Dr. Sawas listed as the sponsor. He did not report potential conflicts of interests. The T-Cell Lymphoma Forum is held by Jonathan Wood & Associates, which is owned by the same company as this news organization.