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Concept: TGN1412


Six volunteers experienced severe inflammatory response during the Phase I clinical trial of a monoclonal antibody that was designed to stimulate a regulatory T cell response. Soon after the trial began, each volunteer experienced a “cytokine storm”, a dramatic increase in cytokine concentrations. The monoclonal antibody, TGN1412, raised serum concentrations of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines το very hiγh values during the first day, while lymphocyte and monocyte concentrations plummeted. Because the subjects were healthy and had no prior indications of immune deficiency, this event provided an unusual opportunity to study the dynamic interactions of cytokines and other measured parameters. Here, the response histories of nine cytokines have been modeled by a set of linear ordinary differential equations. A general search procedure identifies parameters of the model, whose response fits the data well during the five-day measurement period. The eighteenth-order model reveals plausible cause-and-effect relationships among the cytokines, showing how each cytokine induces or inhibits other cytokines. It suggests that perturbations in IL2, IL8, and IL10 have the most significant inductive effect, while IFN-γ and IL12 have the greatest inhibiting effect on other cytokine concentrations. Although TNF-α is a major pro-inflammatory factor, IFN-γ and three other cytokines have faster initial and median response to TGN1412 infusion. Principal-component analysis of the data reveals three clusters of similar cytokine responses: [TNF-α, IL1, IL10], [IFN-γ, IL2, IL4, IL8, and IL12], and [IL6]. IL1, IL6, IL10, and TNF-α have the highest degree of variability in response to uncertain initial conditions, exogenous effects, and parameter estimates. This study illuminates details of a cytokine storm event, and it demonstrates the value of linear modeling for interpreting complex, coupled biological system dynamics from empirical data.

Concepts: Ordinary differential equation, Interleukin 1, Cytokine storm, Inflammation, Antibody, TGN1412, Cytokine, Immune system


Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy has produced impressive results in clinical trials for B-cell malignancies. However, safety concerns related to the inability to control CAR-T cells once infused into the patient remain a significant challenge. Here we report the engineering of recombinant antibody-based bifunctional switches that consist of a tumor antigen-specific Fab molecule engrafted with a peptide neo-epitope, which is bound exclusively by a peptide-specific switchable CAR-T cell (sCAR-T). The switch redirects the activity of the bio-orthogonal sCAR-T cells through the selective formation of immunological synapses, in which the sCAR-T cell, switch, and target cell interact in a structurally defined and temporally controlled manner. Optimized switches specific for CD19 controlled the activity, tissue-homing, cytokine release, and phenotype of sCAR-T cells in a dose-titratable manner in a Nalm-6 xenograft rodent model of B-cell leukemia. The sCAR-T-cell dosing regimen could be tuned to provide efficacy comparable to the corresponding conventional CART-19, but with lower cytokine levels, thereby offering a method of mitigating cytokine release syndrome in clinical translation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this methodology is readily adaptable to targeting CD20 on cancer cells using the same sCAR-T cell, suggesting that this approach may be broadly applicable to heterogeneous and resistant tumor populations, as well as other liquid and solid tumor antigens.

Concepts: Tumor, TGN1412, Neoplasm, Oncology, Immune system, Leukemia, Protein, Cancer


Inflammatory cytokines are commonly elevated in acute depression and are associated with resistance to monoaminergic treatment. To examine the potential role of cytokines in the pathogenesis and treatment of depression, we carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of antidepressant activity of anti-cytokine treatment using clinical trials of chronic inflammatory conditions where depressive symptoms were measured as a secondary outcome. Systematic search of the PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Cochrane databases, search of reference lists and conference abstracts, followed by study selection process yielded 20 clinical trials. Random effect meta-analysis of seven randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving 2370 participants showed a significant antidepressant effect of anti-cytokine treatment compared with placebo (standardised mean difference (SMD)=0.40, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.22-0.59). Anti-tumour necrosis factor drugs were most commonly studied (five RCTs); SMD=0.33 (95% CI; 0.06-0.60). Separate meta-analyses of two RCTs of adjunctive treatment with anti-cytokine therapy and eight non-randomised and/or non-placebo studies yielded similar small-to-medium effect estimates favouring anti-cytokine therapy; SMD=0.19 (95% CI, 0.00-0.37) and 0.51 (95% CI, 0.34-0.67), respectively. Adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab and tocilizumab all showed statistically significant improvements in depressive symptoms. Meta-regression exploring predictors of response found that the antidepressant effect was associated with baseline symptom severity (P=0.018) but not with improvement in primary physical illness, sex, age or study duration. The findings indicate a potentially causal role for cytokines in depression and that cytokine modulators may be novel drugs for depression in chronically inflamed subjects. The field now requires RCTs of cytokine modulators using depression as the primary outcome in subjects with high inflammation who are free of other physical illnesses.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 18 October 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.167.

Concepts: Clinical research, Effect size, Inflammation, TGN1412, Statistics, Meta-analysis, Randomized controlled trial, Clinical trial


Immunomodulatory biologics, which render their therapeutic effects by modulating or harnessing immune responses, have proven their therapeutic utility in several complex conditions including cancer and autoimmune diseases. However, unwanted adverse reactions - including serious infections, malignancy, cytokine release syndrome, anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity as well as immunogenicity - pose a challenge to the development of new (and safer) immunomodulatory biologics. In this article, we assess the safety issues associated with immunomodulatory biologics and discuss the current approaches for predicting and mitigating adverse reactions associated with their use. We also outline how these approaches can inform the development of safer immunomodulatory biologics.

Concepts: Immune system disorders, Antibody, TGN1412, Apoptosis, Infectious disease, Cancer, Immunology, Immune system


The administration of several monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to humans has been associated with acute adverse events characterized by clinically significant release of cytokines in the blood. The limited predictive value of toxicology species in this field has triggered intensive research to establish human in vitro assays using peripheral blood mononuclear cells or blood to predict cytokine release in humans. A thorough characterization of these assays is required to understand their predictive value for hazard identification and risk assessment in an optimal manner, and to highlight potential limitations of individual assay formats. We have characterized a whole human blood cytokine release assay with only minimal dilution by the test antibodies (95% v/v blood) in aqueous presentation format, an assay which has so far received less attention in the scientific world with respect to the evaluation of its suitability to predict cytokine release in humans. This format was compared with a human PBMC assay with immobilized mAbs presentation already well-characterized by others. Cytokine secretion into plasma or cell culture supernatants after 24h incubation with the test mAbs (anti-CD28 superagonist TGN1412-like material (TGN1412L), another anti-CD28 superagonistic mAb (ANC28.1), a T-cell depleting mAb (Orthoclone™), and a TGN1412 isotype-matched control (Tysabri™) not associated with clinically-relevant cytokine release) was detected by a multiplex assay based on electrochemiluminescent excitation. We provide proof that this whole blood assay is a suitable new method for hazard identification of safety-relevant cytokine release in the clinic based on its ability to detect the typical cytokine signatures found in humans for the tested mAbs and on a markedly lower assay background and cytokine release with the isotype-matched control mAb Tysabri™ - a clear advantage over the PBMC assay. Importantly, quantitative and qualitative differences in the relative cytokine responses to the individual mAbs, in the concentration-response relationships and the prominent cytokine signatures for individual mAbs in the two formats reflect diverging mechanisms of cytokine release and different levels of dependency on high density coating even for two anti-CD28 super-agonistic antibodies. These results clearly show that one generic approach to assessment of cytokine release using in vitro assays is not sufficient, but rather the choice of the method, i.e. applying the whole blood assay or the PBMC assay needs to be well considered depending on the target characteristics and the mechanistic features of the therapeutic mAbs being evaluated.

Concepts: Monoclonal antibody therapy, PBMC, Antibody, TGN1412, Blood, Immune system, Monoclonal antibodies


The unexpected outcome of the clinical trial of the superagonistic CD28 mAb TGN1412 (IgG4κ) continues to stimulate interest. We show that TGN1412 binds similarly to human and cynomolgus macaque FcγR, eliminating the possibility that differences in Fc-mediated interactions with FcγR contributed to the failure of preclinical testing in macaques to predict toxicity in humans. The influence of the Fc domain and C region structure on the in vitro functional activity of TGN1412 was investigated using F(ab')(2) and Fab fragments derived from TGN1412 recovered from the trial and recombinant TGN1412 subclass variants and mutants. Superagonistic activity, as measured by cytokine release and proliferation, was assessed by exposing PBMCs to immobilized mAbs/fragments or to aqueous mAbs/fragments in the presence of HUVEC monolayers. Removing the Fc generally curtailed or abolished PBMC activation. However, eliminating detectable FcγR-binding of the IgG4 by mutation (L235E) did not abrogate activity. Stabilizing the “wild-type” IgG4 hinge (S228P) enhanced activity without increasing FcγR binding, which could only partially be explained by inhibition of Fab arm-exchange. Subclass switching the IgG4 mAb to IgG1 decreased activity, whereas switching to IgG2 markedly increased activity. We conclude that the C region strongly influences in vitro CD28-mediated superagonistic signaling. Superagonism requires an intact Fc, as shown by the absence of activity of TGN1412 Fab and F(ab')(2) fragments, but, notably, appears to be relatively independent of FcγR-binding properties. We propose that the Fc, potentially through restricting flexibility, maintains a favorable V region conformation to allow superagonistic activity. These findings have important implications for Ab design strategies.

Concepts: TGN1412, Immune system


In 2006 the anti-CD28 superagonistic IgG4 TGN1412, having passed pre-clinical safety screens, caused a severe ‘cytokine storm’ in 6 healthy volunteers. Others have shown that for TGN1412 to induce an inflammatory signal in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) or in human diluted blood, endothelial cells or bound monoclonal antibody (mAb) are required as part of a bioassay complex. These types of protocols rely on different donor cells and therefore have limitations as bioassays for pre-clinical testing. METHODS: We performed studies using human PBMC/endothelial cell co-cultures, whole blood/endothelial cell co-cultures and human whole blood alone. We bracketed responses of a CD28 superagonist antibody with mAbs against CD52 (alemtuzumab, MabCampath-1H) or epidermal growth factor receptor (cetuximab, Erbitux) and with the immunostimulant lipopolysaccharide. We detected cytokine responses at the level of protein release (using ELISAs and Luminex assays) and gene induction (using real-time PCR arrays). RESULTS: Here we confirm that IL-8 release was induced in a mixed endothelial cell-PBMC system by the anti-CD28 mAb. We go on to show that alemtuzumab and an anti-CD28 mAb, but not cetuximab induced the release of a range of cytokines including IL-8, IL-6, IFNγ, IL-2 and IL10 after 24 hours and induced cytokine gene induction after 1 hour. Co-cultures of whole blood and HUVECS showed larger variability but no superiority over whole blood alone at a range of time points (0.5 - 48 hours). DISCUSSION: We suggest that, whilst limitations exist, human blood-based in vitro assays may prove useful to assess the potential of mAbs and other biotherapeutics to cause release of cytokines in humans.

Concepts: Cytokine storm, Antibody, Cytokine, TGN1412, Protein, Monoclonal antibodies, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Immune system


Background In a single-center phase 1-2a study, the anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel produced high rates of complete remission and was associated with serious but mainly reversible toxic effects in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Methods We conducted a phase 2, single-cohort, 25-center, global study of tisagenlecleucel in pediatric and young adult patients with CD19+ relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL. The primary end point was the overall remission rate (the rate of complete remission or complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery) within 3 months. Results For this planned analysis, 75 patients received an infusion of tisagenlecleucel and could be evaluated for efficacy. The overall remission rate within 3 months was 81%, with all patients who had a response to treatment found to be negative for minimal residual disease, as assessed by means of flow cytometry. The rates of event-free survival and overall survival were 73% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60 to 82) and 90% (95% CI, 81 to 95), respectively, at 6 months and 50% (95% CI, 35 to 64) and 76% (95% CI, 63 to 86) at 12 months. The median duration of remission was not reached. Persistence of tisagenlecleucel in the blood was observed for as long as 20 months. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events that were suspected to be related to tisagenlecleucel occurred in 73% of patients. The cytokine release syndrome occurred in 77% of patients, 48% of whom received tocilizumab. Neurologic events occurred in 40% of patients and were managed with supportive care, and no cerebral edema was reported. Conclusions In this global study of CAR T-cell therapy, a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel provided durable remission with long-term persistence in pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL, with transient high-grade toxic effects. (Funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals; number, NCT02435849 .).

Concepts: TGN1412, Major histocompatibility complex, B cell, Flow cytometry, Hematology, Medicine, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as the superagonistic, CD28-specific antibody TGN1412, or OKT3, an anti-CD3 mAb, can cause severe adverse events including cytokine release syndrome. A predictive model for mAb-mediated adverse effects, for which no previous knowledge on severe adverse events to be expected or on molecular mechanisms underlying is prerequisite, is not available yet. We used a humanized mouse model of human peripheral blood mononuclear cell-reconstituted NOD-RAG1-/-Aβ-/-HLADQ(tg+ or tg-)IL-2Rγc-/- mice to evaluate its predictive value for preclinical testing of mAbs. 2-6 hours after TGN1412 treatment, mice showed a loss of human CD45+ cells from the peripheral blood and loss of only human T cells after OKT3 injection, reminiscent of effects observed in mAb-treated humans. Moreover, upon OKT3 injection we detected selective CD3 downmodulation on T cells, a typical effect of OKT3. Importantly, we detected release of human cytokines in humanized mice upon both OKT3 and TGN1412 application. Finally, humanized mice showed severe signs of illness, a rapid drop of body temperature, and succumbed to antibody application 2-6 hours after administration. Hence, the humanized mouse model used here reproduces several effects and adverse events induced in humans upon application of the therapeutic mAbs OKT3 and TGN1412.

Concepts: Immunology, Cytokine, TGN1412, Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies, Monoclonal antibody therapy, Immune system, Antibody, Monoclonal antibodies


Despite numerous clinical trials no efficacious medications for methamphetamine (MA) have been identified. Neuroinflammation, which has a role in MA-related reward and neurodegeneration, is a novel MA pharmacotherapy target. Ibudilast inhibits activation of microglia and pro-inflammatory cytokines and has reduced MA self-administration in preclinical research. This study examined whether ibudilast would reduce subjective effects of MA in humans.

Concepts: Carbon, Food and Drug Administration, TGN1412,, Placebo, Effectiveness, Pre-clinical development, Pharmacology