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Kite's Tecartus® Demonstrates High Response Rate in Adults With Relapsed or Refractory B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Earning Priority Review Designation

-- 71% of Adult Patients in Phase 2 ZUMA-3 Study Achieved a Complete Response Following a Single Infusion of Tecartus --

-- Findings Support Recent Supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for Tecartus Accepted for Priority Review by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) --

-- If Approved, Tecartus Would Be the First and Only CAR T-Cell Therapy Approved for Adult Patients (18 Years and Older) with Relapsed or Refractory B-cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia --

Kite, a Gilead Company (Nasdaq: GILD), announced today results from the primary analysis of ZUMA-3, a global, multicenter, single-arm, open-label Phase 1/2 study evaluating its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy Tecartus® (brexucabtagene autoleucel) in adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The data were simultaneously published in The Lancet and presented during an oral session at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting from June 4 – 8 (Abstract #7002).

“Outcomes in adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia are poor relative to what is observed in children, with less than half of people over 20 years of age expected to survive the illness. It is on this background that CAR T-cell therapy with brexucabtagene autoleucel was tested in adults with relapsed B-ALL in ZUMA-3,” said Bijal Shah, MD, ZUMA-3 investigator and medical oncologist, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida. “In this international, multicenter study, we observed a response rate of 71%. Importantly, the majority of these responses were associated with undetectable minimal residual disease.”

In the pivotal Phase 2 portion of the trial, 71 patients with relapsed or refractory disease were enrolled. Among treated patients (n=55), 47% had received three or more prior therapies. At a median follow-up of 16.4 months, 71% of treated patients achieved a complete response (CR) or CR with incomplete hematological recovery (CRi), with 31% in ongoing response at data cut-off. 97% of those responders had deep molecular remission, with undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD), and median overall survival (OS) among all responders was not reached. Among 25 patients with prior blinatumomab treatment, the CR/CRi rate was 60%. Among all treated patients, median duration of response (DOR), relapse-free survival (RFS), and OS were 12.8 months, 11.6 months and 18.2 months, respectively.

Grade ≥3 adverse events occurred in 95% of patients, with anemia (49%) and pyrexia (36%) most frequently reported. Grade ≥3 cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurologic events occurred in 24% and 25% of patients, respectively, and were generally reversed with treatment. Two Grade 5 treatment-related events occurred (one brain herniation and one case of septic shock).

Based on these data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) and granted Priority Review designation for Tecartus for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL, with a target action date under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) of October 1, 2021. If approved, Tecartus would become the first and only CAR T-cell therapy approved for adults (≥18 years old) with relapsed or refractory ALL.

“The data presented at ASCO today validate the response rates seen in the Phase 1 portion of the ZUMA-3 study and the transformative potential of Tecartus in adult patients with ALL,” said Frank Neumann, MD, PhD, Kite’s Global Head of Clinical Development. “We have already seen the impact of Tecartus for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, and these new data are a significant next step in our continued commitment in developing our therapies for patients with leukemias and lymphomas.”

In 2016, Tecartus received Breakthrough Therapy Designation in recognition of the unmet medical need in adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL. Tecartus is currently approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, as the first and only CAR T-cell therapy to receive accelerated approval from the FDA in this indication. The Tecartus U.S. Prescribing Information has a Boxed Warning in its product label regarding the risks of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurologic toxicities, and Tecartus is approved with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) due to these risks; see below for Indication and Important Safety Information.

Tecartus has not been approved by any regulatory agency for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory ALL. Its safety and efficacy are currently under review by the FDA for this indication.

About ALL

ALL is an aggressive type of blood cancer that can also involve the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, central nervous system and other organs. Approximately 1,030 adults are treated annually for relapsed or refractory ALL. Survival rates remain very poor in adult patients with relapsed or refractory ALL, with a median overall survival of approximately eight months with the most commonly used therapeutic agents.

B-cell precursor ALL is the most common form of the disease, accounting for approximately 75 percent of cases. Treatment for this form is typically associated with inferior outcomes compared with other types of ALL.

About ZUMA-3

ZUMA-3 is an ongoing international multicenter, registrational Phase 1/2 study in adult patients (≥18 years old) with ALL whose disease is refractory to or has relapsed following first standard systemic therapy with remission of 12 months or less, after two or more lines of systemic therapy or after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. The objectives of the study are to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tecartus in this patient population.

About Tecartus

Tecartus is an autologous, anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy. Tecartus uses the XLP manufacturing process that includes T cell enrichment, a necessary step in certain B-cell malignancies in which circulating lymphoblasts are a common feature. In addition to adult ALL, Tecartus is also currently being evaluated in pediatric ALL. The use of Tecartus in both cancer types is investigational, and its safety and efficacy have not been established in these cancer types.

Tecartus Indication

Tecartus is a CD19-directed genetically modified autologous T cell immunotherapy indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial.



  • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), including life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients receiving Tecartus. Do not administer Tecartus to patients with active infection or inflammatory disorders. Treat severe or life-threatening CRS with tocilizumab or tocilizumab and corticosteroids.
  • Neurologic toxicities, including life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients receiving Tecartus, including concurrently with CRS or after CRS resolution. Monitor for neurologic toxicities after treatment with Tecartus. Provide supportive care and/or corticosteroids as needed.
  • Tecartus is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Yescarta and Tecartus REMS Program.

Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), including life-threatening reactions, occurred following treatment with Tecartus. In ZUMA-2, CRS occurred in 91% (75/82) of patients receiving Tecartus, including ≥ Grade 3 CRS in 18% of patients. Among the patients who died after receiving Tecartus, one had a fatal CRS event. The median time to onset of CRS was three days (range: 1 to 13 days) and the median duration of CRS was ten days (range: 1 to 50 days). Among patients with CRS, key manifestations (>10%) included fever (99%), hypotension (60%), hypoxia (37%), chills (33%), tachycardia (37%), headache (24%), fatigue (19%), nausea (13%), alanine aminotransferase increased (13%), aspartate aminotransferase increased (12%), and diarrhea (11%). Serious events associated with CRS included hypotension, fever, hypoxia, acute kidney injury, and tachycardia.

Ensure that a minimum of two doses of tocilizumab are available for each patient prior to infusion of Tecartus. Following infusion, monitor patients for signs and symptoms of CRS daily for at least seven days at the certified healthcare facility, and for four weeks thereafter. Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms of CRS occur at any time. At the first sign of CRS, institute treatment with supportive care, tocilizumab, or tocilizumab and corticosteroids as indicated.

Neurologic Toxicities, including those that were life-threatening, occurred following treatment with Tecartus. In ZUMA-2, neurologic events occurred in 81% of patients, 37% of whom experienced Grade ≥3 adverse reactions. The median time to onset for neurologic events was six days (range: 1 to 32 days). Neurologic events resolved for 52 out of 66 (79%) patients with a median duration of 21 days (range: 2 to 454 days). Three patients had ongoing neurologic events at the time of death, including one patient with serious encephalopathy. The remaining unresolved neurologic events were either Grade 1 or Grade 2. Fifty-four (66%) patients experienced CRS by the onset of neurological events. Five (6%) patients did not experience CRS with neurologic events and eight patients (10%) developed neurological events after the resolution of CRS. 85% of all treated patients experienced the first CRS or neurological event within the first seven days after Tecartus infusion.

The most common neurologic events (>10%) included encephalopathy (51%), headache (35%), tremor (38%), aphasia (23%), and delirium (16%). Serious events including encephalopathy, aphasia, and seizures occurred.

Monitor patients daily for at least seven days at the certified healthcare facility and for four weeks following infusion for signs and symptoms of neurologic toxicities and treat promptly.

REMS Program: Because of the risk of CRS and neurologic toxicities, Tecartus is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Yescarta and Tecartus REMS Program which requires that:

  • Healthcare facilities that dispense and administer Tecartus must be enrolled and comply with the REMS requirements. Certified healthcare facilities must have on-site, immediate access to tocilizumab, and ensure that a minimum of two doses of tocilizumab are available for each patient for infusion within two hours after Tecartus infusion, if needed for treatment of CRS.
  • Certified healthcare facilities must ensure that healthcare providers who prescribe, dispense, or administer Tecartus are trained in the management of CRS and neurologic toxicities. Further information is available at or 1-844-454-KITE (5483).

Hypersensitivity Reactions: Serious hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis, may occur due to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or residual gentamicin in Tecartus.

Severe Infections: Severe or life-threatening infections occurred in patients after Tecartus infusion. In ZUMA-2, infections (all grades) occurred in 56% of patients. Grade 3 or higher infections, including bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, occurred in 30% of patients. Tecartus should not be administered to patients with clinically significant active systemic infections. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection before and after infusion and treat appropriately. Administer prophylactic antimicrobials according to local guidelines.

Febrile neutropenia was observed in 6% of patients after Tecartus infusion and may be concurrent with CRS. In the event of febrile neutropenia, evaluate for infection and manage with broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, and other supportive care as medically indicated.

In immunosuppressed patients, including those who have received Tecartus, life-threatening and fatal opportunistic infections, including disseminated fungal infections (eg, candida sepsis and aspergillus infections) and viral reactivation (eg, human herpes virus-6 [HHV-6] encephalitis and JC virus progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy [PML]) have been reported. The possibility of HHV-6 encephalitis and PML should be considered in immunosuppressed patients with neurologic events and appropriate diagnostic evaluations should be performed.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation, in some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, and death, can occur in patients treated with drugs directed against B cells. Perform screening for HBV, HCV, and HIV in accordance with clinical guidelines before collection of cells for manufacturing.

Prolonged Cytopenias: Patients may exhibit cytopenias for several weeks following lymphodepleting chemotherapy and Tecartus infusion. In ZUMA-2, Grade ≥3 cytopenias not resolved by Day 30 following Tecartus infusion occurred in 55% of patients and included thrombocytopenia (38%), neutropenia (37%), and anemia (17%). Monitor blood counts after infusion.

Hypogammaglobulinemia and B-cell aplasia can occur in patients receiving treatment with Tecartus. In ZUMA-2, hypogammaglobulinemia occurred in 16% of patients. Monitor immunoglobulin levels after treatment with Tecartus and manage using infection precautions, antibiotic prophylaxis, and immunoglobulin replacement. The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines during or following Tecartus treatment has not been studied. Vaccination with live virus vaccines is not recommended for at least six weeks prior to the start of lymphodepleting chemotherapy, during treatment, and until immune recovery following treatment with Tecartus.

Secondary Malignancies may develop. Monitor life-long for secondary malignancies. In the event that one occurs, contact Kite at 1-844-454-KITE (5483) to obtain instructions on patient samples to collect for testing.

Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines: Due to the potential for neurologic events, including altered mental status or seizures, patients are at risk for altered or decreased consciousness or coordination in the 8 weeks following Tecartus infusion. Advise patients to refrain from driving and engaging in hazardous activities, such as operating heavy or potentially dangerous machinery, during this period.

Adverse Reactions: The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 20%) were pyrexia, CRS, hypotension, encephalopathy, fatigue, tachycardia, arrhythmia, infection – pathogen unspecified, chills, hypoxia, cough, tremor, musculoskeletal pain, headache, nausea, edema, motor dysfunction, constipation, diarrhea, decreased appetite, dyspnea, rash, insomnia, pleural effusion, and aphasia. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 66% of patients. The most common serious adverse reactions (> 2%) were encephalopathy, pyrexia, infection – pathogen unspecified, CRS, hypoxia, aphasia, renal insufficiency, pleural effusion, respiratory failure, bacterial infections, dyspnea, fatigue, arrhythmia, tachycardia, and viral infections.

Please see full Prescribing Information, including BOXED WARNING and Medication Guide.

About Kite

Kite, a Gilead Company, is a global biopharmaceutical company based in Santa Monica, California, with commercial manufacturing operations in North America and Europe. Kite’s singular focus is cell therapy to treat and potentially cure cancer. As the cell therapy leader, Kite has more approved CAR T indications to help more patients than any other company. For more information on Kite, please visit

About Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.

Forward-Looking Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities. This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including the risk that the FDA may not approve Tecartus for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL in the anticipated timelines or at all, and any marketing approvals, if granted, may have significant limitations on its use. There is also the possibility of unfavorable results from other ongoing and additional clinical trials involving Tecartus. These and other risks, uncertainties and other factors are described in detail in Gilead’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2021, as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks, uncertainties and other factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to Kite and Gilead, and Kite and Gilead assume no obligation and disclaim any intent to update any such forward-looking statements.


U.S. Prescribing Information for Tecartus including BOXED WARNING, is available at and

Kite, the Kite logo, Yescarta, Tecartus, XLP and GILEAD are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc. or its related companies.

For more information on Kite, please visit the company’s website at or call Gilead Public Affairs at 1-800-GILEAD-5 or 1-650-574-3000. Follow Kite on social media on Twitter (@KitePharma) and LinkedIn.


Jacquie Ross, Investors

(650) 358-1054

Nathan Kaiser, Media

(650) 522-1853

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