Extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma is a rare, fast-growing type of lymphoma. It is very strongly linked to infection with a virus called Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV is a common virus, but very rarely, it can cause genetic changes in lymphocytes that might turn into lymphoma. Most people who have EBV infection do not develop lymphoma.
The CITADEL trial included 47 people with extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma that had either:
- come back or not responded after at least one cycle of chemotherapy
- responded to treatment but was considered to be at high risk of coming back.
People who took part in the CITADEL trial had their own T cells collected. These cells were treated in a lab to select and grow T cells that could recognise EBV. These ‘EBV-specific T cells’ were then given back through a drip into a vein (an infusion). People in the trial had up to five infusions over a period of several months.
EBV-specific T cells take around 25 days to prepare. They could not be prepared successfully for some people who took part in the trial, and, sadly, some people died or experienced progression of their lymphoma before the cells were ready. In all, 15 people were treated with EBV-specific T cells as part of the trial.
Around half the people who were given EBV-specific T cell treatment responded to it. Treatment response lasted for an average of 12 months. The treatment was well tolerated, with few serious side effects.
The results of this trial suggest that EBV-specific T cells are active against extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, and are worth studying in more detail, possibly in combination with other therapies.
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