ANTI-CD47 Cancer Immunotherapy Safe in NHL Patients

By David Costill
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A breaking study in the New England Journal of Medicine determined that a new immunotherapy that blocks the CD47 protein is safe to use in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

This phase-1, multicenter clinical trial was designed to test the safety of a novel immunotherapy that combines rituximab with a newly-developed experimental antibody called Hu5F9-G4. This experimental antibody was designed by researchers at Stanford and works by inhibiting the CD47 protein.  

Cancer cells. Source

“It was very gratifying to see how the treatment was well-tolerated and showed a clinically meaningful response,” Ranjana Advani, MD, professor of medicine at Stanford, said in a press release.

The study included 22 patients, 15 with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and 7 with follicular lymphoma. The study participants had been exposed to a median of 4 previous treatments before the study period. The experimental agent was administered intravenously at 1mg per kilogram of body weight at initiation and then at 10mg to 30 mg per kilogram on a weekly basis.

Study results showed that half of the study participants responded positively to the treatment, with 36% having a complete response. Additionally, the researchers noted that 40% and 33% of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients had an objective response or complete response, respectively. While, objective and complete response rates were 71% and 43% among follicular lymphoma patients, respectively.

Primary results for this study measured safety—with patients reporting grade 1 or 2 adverse events predominantly. The treatment was determined safe; however, some patients reported transitory anemia or reactions at the injection site.

“It's very exciting to have a potentially new class of immunotherapy like this," Advani concluded. "For the first time we have an antibody that activates macrophages against cancer and appears to be safe for use in humans.”