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Phase i study of expanded natural killer cells in combination with cetuximab for recurrent/metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Lim, C.M.; Liou, A.; Poon, M.; Koh, L.P.; Tan, L.K.; Loh, K.S.; Petersson, B.F.; Ting, E.; Campana, D.; Goh, B.C.; Shimasaki, N.

Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy: Cii 71(9): 2277-2286

2022


ISSN/ISBN: 1432-0851
PMID: 35098345
Accession: 079635290

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells express high levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Cetuximab is an anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody that promotes natural killer (NK) cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) via engagement of CD16. We studied safety and efficacy of combining cetuximab with autologous expanded NK cells in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic NPC who had failed at least two prior lines of chemotherapy. Seven subjects (six patients) received cetuximab every 3 weeks (six doses maximum) in the pre-trial phase. Autologous NK cells, expanded by co-culture with irradiated K562-mb15-41BBL cells, were then infused on the day after administration of cetuximab. Primary and secondary objectives were to determine safety of this combination therapy and to assess tumor responses, respectively. Median NK cell expansion from peripheral blood mononucleated cells after 10 days of culture with K562-mb15-41BBL was 274-fold (range, 36-534, n = 10), and the median expression of CD16 was 98.4% (range, 67.8-99.7%). Skin rash, the commonest side effect of cetuximab in the pre-trial phase, was not exacerbated by NK cell infusion. No intolerable side effects were observed. Stable disease was observed in four subjects and progressive disease in three subjects. Three patients who received NK cells twice had time to disease progression of 12, 13, and 19 months. NK cells with high ADCC potential can be expanded from patients with heavily pre-treated NPC. The safety profile and encouraging clinical responses observed after combining these cells with cetuximab warrant further studies of this approach. (clinicalTrials.gov NCT02507154, 23/07/2015). Engaging NK cell-mediated ADCC using cetuximab plus autologous NK cells in EGFR-positive NPC was well tolerated among heavily pre-treated recurrent NPC. Promising results were observed with 3 out of 7 subjects demonstrating durable stable disease.

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