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Clinical Trial Roundup: Gene-Editing Therapies for Renal Cell Carcinoma

In this update, we summarise the two ongoing gene-editing clinical trials for renal cell carcinoma, which is the most common form of kidney cancer found in adults.

By: Karen O'Hanlon Cohrt - Apr. 6, 2022

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a type of kidney cancer that develops in the lining of the very small tubes (tubules) in the kidneys. Although rare, RCC is the most common type of adult kidney cancer, counting for about 90 % of all cases (see Fact Box). This update looks at two ongoing clinical trials sponsored by Allogene Therapeutics and CRISPR Therapeutics for gene-edited therapy candidates for RCC.

ALLO-316: A TALEN-edited CAR-T cell therapy for renal cell carcinoma

Allogene Therapeutics is developing ALLO-316 to treat renal cell carcinoma (RCC) as well as several blood cancers that express the cell-surface antigen CD70. The expression of CD70 is limited in healthy tissues, which makes it an attractive anti-tumour target.

ALLO-316 is Allogene's first solid tumour candidate to reach the clinic, and it is currently being evaluated in the multi-center TRAVERSE Phase 1 clinical trial for safety, efficacy, and cell kinetics in adults with advanced or metastatic clear cell RCC.

TALEN-edited allogeneic cell therapy

ALLO-316 is an allogeneic cell therapy, i.e., it is generated in vitro from healthy donor T cells. Following isolation from donors, T cells are TALEN-engineered to harbour a CD70-targeting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Cellectis’ TALEN® gene-editing technology is used under licence to develop ALLO-316. The T cell receptor (TCR) locus, TRAC, in the donor-derived cells is disrupted by replacement with the recombinant CAR gene. This move also places the CAR under the endogenous TCR control.

The CD52-encoding gene is also TALEN-disrupted in ALLO-316. This is a common feature for allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies, in which an anti-CD52 antibody is administered prior to CAR-T cell therapy to suppress the patient’s immune system and allow the CAR-T cells to stay engrafted for full therapeutic effect. CD52 disruption renders the CAR-T cells resistant to this treatment.

The TRAVERSE trial is expected to enrol 120 adult participants, who will each receive a single dose of intravenously adminstered ALLO-316 after a lymphodepletion regimen comprising fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and Allogene’s CD52 monoclonal antibody, ALLO-647.

Pre-clinical data for ALLO-316 supports anti-tumour potential

Allogene presented pre-clinical data for ALLO-316 in models of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) at the American Hematology Society (ASH) in late 2020. Here, they reported that CD70 expression was detected on AML cell lines and primary samples from AML patients, but not in haematopoietic stem cells. ALLO-316 was able to kill leukaemic cells in multiple animal models, and this activity was abolished in CD70-deficient models. While activated T cells usually express CD70, the company reported that ALLO-316 CAR-T cells did not express CD70, likely because the CAR masks CD70 on the cell surface. This is important because it enhances persistence by minimising the risk of the ALLO-316 cells targeting themselves. You can read more about the pre-clinical data for ALLO-316 in an earlier clinical update here.

Allogene Therapeutics announced in March 2022 that the FDA had granted Fast Track Designation for ALLO-316, for the treatment of RCC in patients where standard therapies have failed. The FDA's Fast track process is designed to facilitate the development and speed up the review of certain drugs to treat serious conditions and fill unmet medical needs.

No clinical data has been shared for ALLO-316 as of yet. We will provide updates as they emerge.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) occurs most often in males ages 60 to 70 years old, and comprises several disease subtypes, with symptoms including but not limited to passing blood in urine, abdominal pain and abdominal mass, high blood pressure, anaemia, and fever. Some individuals remain symptom-free.

RCC is usually diagnosed via CT scaning or sonography. Early diagnosis and disease staging is critical to initate appropriate treatment as early as possible. The exact cause of RCC is unknown although smoking and certain pre-existing kidney diseases are among the established risk factors. Patient prognosis varies greatly depending on many factors including age and stage of disease upon diagnosis. Treatment depends on type and stage of disease, and typically involves a combination of surgical removal of tumours, hormone treatment to shrink tumours, and chemotherapy.

Source: www.rarediseases.org

CTX130: A CRISPR-edited CAR-T cell therapy for renal cell carcinoma

CRISPR Therapeutics is developing CTX130 for the treatment of RCC as well as relapsed or refractory T or B cell cancers, including certain lymphomas. The candidate is currently being assessed in 2 clinical trials: one trial for T or B cell cancers and the other trial for safety and efficacy of several dose levels in RCC.

CTX130 is an allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy that, like ALLO-316, is designed to target the cell-surface antigen CD70. The therapeutic candidate is developed using T cells from healthy donors that undergo several ex vivo CRISPR-Cas9 modifications to make the product suitable for off-the-shelf CAR-T cell therapy.

Firstly, CRISPR-Cas9 is used to engineer the CAR that allows the CTX130 cells to target and kill CD70-expressing cells.

CRISPR-Cas9 is also used to insert the anti-CD70 CAR construct precisely into the TRAC locus. This move disrupts the native TCR, thus mitigating the risk of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) that may otherwise result from histo-incompatibility between a donor and recipient. This edit also places the CAR under endogenous TCR regulation.

CRISPR-Cas9 is further used to eliminate the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC I) expressed on the surface of the CTX130 cells. This edit alleviates the risk of the patient rejecting the CAR-T product via MHC I, thus increasing the likelihood of the therapy persisting in the patient’s blood.

Both CTX130 trials are single-arm, open-label, multicenter Phase 1 studies, and in a recent business report, CRISPR Therapeutics revealed that its expects to report topline data for CTX130 in the first half of 2022.

We strive to keep you updated with clinical and pre-clinical news from the CRISPR Medicine field. For a complete overview of current gene editing clinical trials, check out CRISPR Medicine News' Clinical Trials Database.

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News: Clinical Trial Roundup: Gene-Editing Therapies for Renal Cell Carcinoma
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