Immunotherapy with genetically modified immune cells increases survival of patients with aggressive B lymphoma who do not respond to chemotherapy

  • The use of genetically modified T lymphocytes (CART lymphocytes) to recognize cancer cells increases the life expectancy of patients with chemotherapy-resistant lymphoma.
  • Two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine, with the participation of IDIBELL and the ICO, present the results of two phase 3 clinical trials comparing treatment with CART lymphocytes versus conventional treatment with chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.
  • One of them (ZUMA-7 study) demonstrates the advantage of CART lymphocytes over conventional rescue treatment.
NP47 A Sureda_NEJM - Imatge

Two articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine (Locke FL et al., Bishop MR et al.), in which Dr. Anna Sureda, group leader at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and head of the Clinical Hematology Service at the Institute of Oncology of Catalonia (ICO) in Hospitalet, have evaluated the use of CART cells as a second-line therapeutic strategy for patients with aggressive B-cell lymphoma with a poor prognosis.

Patients with aggressive B lymphoma, who do not respond to first-line chemotherapy or who relapsed, have a poor prognosis. Conventional second-line treatment, which includes high-dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation, is not a good option for these patients.

CART cells are genetically modified autologous T lymphocytes that can recognize and destroy a patient’s tumor cells. The previous phase 2 studies have shown greater efficacy of these cells in patients who do not respond or have become resistant to multiple lines of treatment.

These promising results have led to the development of three phase 3 studies (ZUMA-7, BELINDA, and TRANSFORM) that compare CART constructs with conventional second-line chemotherapy in patients with poor prognosis. The ZUMA-7 and TRANSFORMstudies are those presented in the two New England Journal of Medicine in which Dr. Sureda participated.

Two of these studies, ZUMA-7 and TRANSFORM, have shown statistically significant advantages in the rate of complete remissions and progression-free survival with the administration of CART cells over conventional treatment. “These positive results make it very likely that, in the future, we will be able to use CART constructs as a second-line therapeutic strategy in this subgroup of patients,” said Dr. Sureda.


The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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