The SCHOLAR-1 international retrospective study highlighted poor clinical outcomes and survival among patients with refractory large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL) treated with conventional chemotherapy. Axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel), an autologous anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, demonstrated durable responses in patients with refractory LBCL in the pivotal phase 1/2 ZUMA-1 study (NCT02348216). Here, we compared SCHOLAR-1 with the 2-year outcomes of ZUMA-1. Prior to comparison of clinical outcomes, propensity scoring (based on a broad set of prognostic covariates) was used to create balance between ZUMA-1 and SCHOLAR-1 patients. In the pivotal phase 2 portion of ZUMA-1, 101 patients received axi-cel and were evaluable for response and survival. In SCHOLAR-1, 434 and 424 patients were evaluable for response and survival, respectively. ZUMA-1 patients were more heavily pretreated than were SCHOLAR-1 patients. The median follow-up was 27.1 months in ZUMA-1. The objective response rate (ORR) and complete response rate were 83% and 54% in ZUMA-1 vs 34% and 12% in SCHOLAR-1, respectively. The 2-year survival rate was 54% in ZUMA-1 and 20% in SCHOLAR-1, and a 73% reduction in the risk of death was observed in ZUMA-1 vs SCHOLAR-1. These results were consistent with those of an additional standardization analysis in which strata were limited to 2 prognostic factors (refractory categorization and presence/absence of stem cell transplant after refractoriness to chemotherapy) to conserve sample size. Despite the limitations of a nonrandomized analysis, these results indicate that axi-cel produces durable responses and a substantial survival benefit vs non-CAR T-cell salvage regimens for patients with refractory LBCL.
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