CAR T-cells targeting FLT3 have potent activity against FLT3-ITD+ AML and act synergistically with the FLT3-inhibitor crenolanib.

Jetani H, Garcia-Cadenas I, Nerreter T, Thomas S, Rydzek J, Meijide JB, Bonig H, Herr W, Sierra J, Einsele H, Hudecek M
Leukemia 2018

Abstract

FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is a transmembrane protein expressed on normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSC) and retained on malignant blasts in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We engineered CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells expressing a FLT3-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and demonstrate they confer potent reactivity against AML cell lines and primary AML blasts that express either wild-type FLT3 or FLT3 with internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD). We also show that treatment with the FLT3-inhibitor crenolanib leads to increased surface expression of FLT3 specifically on FLT3-ITD+ AML cells and consecutively, enhanced recognition by FLT3-CAR T-cells in vitro and in vivo. As anticipated, we found that FLT3-CAR T-cells recognize normal HSCs in vitro and in vivo, and disrupt normal hematopoiesis in colony-formation assays, suggesting that adoptive therapy with FLT3-CAR T-cells will require subsequent CAR T-cell depletion and allogeneic HSC transplantation to reconstitute the hematopoietic system. Collectively, our data establish FLT3 as a novel CAR target in AML with particular relevance in high-risk FLT3-ITD+ AML. Further, our data provide the first proof-of-concept that CAR T-cell immunotherapy and small molecule inhibition can be used synergistically, as exemplified by our data showing superior antileukemia efficacy of FLT3-CAR T-cells in combination with crenolanib.

Affiliation: Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik II, Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.

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