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J Transl Med. 2012 Aug 3;10:157. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-10-157.

A phase I clinical trial of adoptive transfer of folate receptor-alpha redirected autologous T cells for recurrent ovarian cancer.

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Ovarian Cancer Research Center, Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



In spite of increased rates of complete response to initial chemotherapy, most patients with advanced ovarian cancer relapse and succumb to progressive disease.


Genetically reprogrammed, patient-derived chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T lymphocytes with the ability to recognize predefined surface antigens with high specificity in a non-MHC restricted manner have shown increasing anti-tumor efficacy in preclinical and clinical studies. Folate receptor-α (FRα) is an ovarian cancer-specific tumor target; however, it is expressed at low levels in certain organs with risk for toxicity.


Here we propose a phase I study testing the feasibility, safety and preliminary activity of FRα-redirected CAR-T cells bearing the CD137 (4-1BB) costimulatory domain, administered after lymphodepletion for the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer. A novel trial design is proposed that maximizes safety features.


This design involves an initial accelerated dose escalation phase of FR-α CAR-T cells followed by a standard 3 + 3 escalation phase. A split-dose approach is proposed to mitigate acute adverse events. Furthermore, infusion of bulk untransduced autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) is proposed two days after CAR-T cell infusion at the lower dose levels of CAR-T cells, to suppress excessive expansion of CAR-T cells in vivo and mitigate toxicity.

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