Liquid biopsy approach to monitor the efficacy and response to CAR-T cell therapy

February, 02, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells are approved for use in the treatment of hematological malignancies. Axicabtagene ciloleucel (YESCARTA) and brexucabtagene autoleucel (TECARTUS) genetically modified autologous T cells expressing an anti-CD19 scFv based on the FMC63 clone have shown impressive response rates for the treatment of CD19+B cell malignancies, but there remain challenges in monitoring long-term persistence as well as the functional characterization of low-level persisting CAR-T cells in patients. Furthermore, due to CD19-negative driven relapse, having the capability to monitor patients with simultaneous detection of the B cell malignancy and persisting CAR-T cells in patient peripheral blood is important for ensuring timely treatment optionality and understanding relapse.


This study demonstrates the development and technical validation of a comprehensive liquid biopsy, high-definition single cell assay (HDSCA)-HemeCAR for (1) KTE-X19 CAR-T cell identification and analysis and (2) simultaneously monitoring the CD19-epitope landscape on neoplastic B cells in cryopreserved or fresh peripheral blood. Proprietary anti-CD19 CAR reagents, healthy donor transduced CAR-T cells, and patient samples consisting of malignant B cell fractions from manufacturing were used for assay development.


The CAR-T assay showed an approximate limit of detection at 1 cell in 3 million with a sensitivity of 91%. Genomic analysis was additionally used to confirm the presence of the CAR transgene. This study additionally reports the successful completion of two B cell assays with multiple CD19 variants (FMC63 and LE-CD19) and a unique fourth channel biomarker (CD20 or CD22). In patient samples, we observed that CD19 isoforms were highly heterogeneous both intrapatient and interpatient.


With the simultaneous detection of the CAR-T cells and the B cell malignancy in patient peripheral blood, the HDSCA-HemeCAR workflow may be considered for risk monitoring and patient management.

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