Publications by authors named "Joshua A Hill"

94 Publications

Clinical and Economic Burden of Multiple Double-Stranded DNA Viral Infections after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Transplant Cell Ther 2022 Jun 25. Epub 2022 Jun 25.

Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

Conditioning regimens for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) are immunosuppressive and increase the risk for reactivation of and infection with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses, which contribute to morbidity and mortality after allo-HCT. This retrospective observational study evaluated the association of dsDNA viral infections with clinical outcomes, health resource utilization (HRU), and health care reimbursement after allo-HCT. Patients who underwent allo-HCT between 2012 and 2017 were identified from a US open-source claims database (Decision Resource Group Real-World Evidence Data Repository; n = 13,363) and categorized according to the presence or absence of dsDNA viral infection, defined as having ≥1 diagnosis code for cytomegalovirus (CMV), adenovirus (AdV), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), or BK virus (BKV)/Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)/John Cunningham virus (JCV) (grouped together given a lack of specific diagnoses codes) within 1 year after allo-HCT. Only first allo-HCT data were used in patients who underwent multiple procedures. Study outcomes included clinical outcomes (eg, time to all-cause mortality, new diagnosis of renal impairment), HRU (hospital and intensive care unit length of stay [LOS], readmission rates), and health care reimbursement (total, inpatient, and outpatient costs as reported reimbursements from insurance claims). For all outcomes, patients were stratified by the presence/absence of any dsDNA viral infection and number (none, 1, 2, or ≥3) and type(s) of infection. The effect of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was assessed as well. Twenty-nine percent of patients were diagnosed with CMV, 13% with BKV/EBV/JCV, 5% with AdV, and 4% with HHV-6 in the year following their first allo-HCT. A single dsDNA viral infection was documented in 30% of individuals, 2 in 8%, and ≥3 in 2%. Patients with no viral infections had an overall hospital LOS (index hospitalization plus readmissions) of 41.3 days and a total health care reimbursement of $266,345. These numbers increased for every additional viral infection, regardless of the presence or absence of GVHD; the overall hospital LOS was 61.4 days and total healthcare reimbursement was $431,614 in patients with 1 viral infection, 77.0 days and $639,097 in patients with 2 viral infections, and 103.3 days and $964,378 in patients with ≥3 viral infections. An increase in the number of dsDNA viral infections was associated with a significantly higher adjusted hazard of all-cause mortality (1 versus 0 dsDNA viral infections: hazard ratio [HR], 1.5; [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.3 to 1.6]; 2 versus 0: HR, 2.0 [95% CI, 1.7 to 2.3]; ≥3 versus 0: HR, 2.4 [95% CI, 1.8 to 3.3]) and a significantly higher incidence of new diagnosis of renal impairment, regardless of the presence of GVHD (35% of patients with ≥3 infections, 31% of patients with 2 infections, 26% of patients with 1 infection, and 19% of patients with no infection). These results indicate that more directed prevention and treatment strategies for dsDNA viral infections could substantially improve clinical outcomes and reduce HRU.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2022.06.016DOI Listing
June 2022

Voriconazole in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies: Real-World Usage and Therapeutic Level Attainment at a Major Transplantation Center.

Transplant Cell Ther 2022 Aug 24;28(8):511.e1-511.e10. Epub 2022 May 24.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease and Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, Washington; Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Voriconazole (VCZ) was one of the first mold-active triazoles available; however, its current use among high-risk hematology populations is unknown as the uptake of posaconazole (PCZ) and isavuconazole (ISZ) increases. We evaluated the usage and therapeutic level attainment of VCZ in hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy patients at our cancer center. Electronic medical records for all adult HCT or CAR-T patients with an order for VCZ, PCZ, or ISV between January 1, 2018, and June 30, 2020, were extracted. Clinical characteristics, VCZ indication, trough VCZ levels, and frequency of VCZ initiation from 6 months before to 6 months after HCT/CAR-T infusion in consecutive HCT/CAR-T recipients within the study period (infusion between July 1, 2018, and January 1, 2020) were assessed. The association between relevant clinical characteristics and the attainment of subtherapeutic or supratherapeutic levels was also evaluated. Of 468 patients prescribed mold-active triazoles, 256 (54.7%) were prescribed VCZ, 324 (69.2%) PCZ, and 60 (12.8%) ISZ; 152/468 (32.5%) treatment regimens were sequentially modified to alternate mold-active triazoles. Among consecutive HCT and CAR-T recipients at our center, evaluated 6 months pre- or post- HCT/ CAR-T, VCZ was commonly initiated before or after allogeneic HCT (102/381, 26.8%), with most use in the first 30 days after stem cell infusion (40/381, 10.5%); VCZ use was less common in autologous HCT (13/276, 4.7%) and CAR-T (10/153, 6.5%). Of 223 VCZ orders that met inclusion for analysis, indications included empiric treatment in 108/223 (48.4%), directed therapy in 25/223 (11.2%), primary prophylaxis in 69/223 (30.9%) and secondary prophylaxis in 21/223 (9.4%). Of 223 eligible VCZ patients, 144 (64.6%) had at least 1 VCZ level measured during the study period; 75/144 (52.1%) had a therapeutic VCZ level (1.0-5.5 mg/L) at the first measurement (median 2.8mg/L [range 0.1-13.5]) at a median of 6 days of therapy, with 26.4% subtherapeutic and 21.5% supratherapeutic; 46/88 (52.3%) were therapeutic at the second measurement (2.1mg/L [0.1-9.9]) at a median of 17 days of therapy; and 33/48 (68.8%) at the third (2.3mg/L [0.1-7.7]) at a median of 29 days. In multivariable analysis of factors associated with sub- or supratherapeutic levels (body mass index ≥30, concurrent omeprazole use, concurrent letermovir use, indication for VCZ, history/timeframe of HCT), the only significant association was lower odds of a supratherapeutic VCZ level among those undergoing HCT within the previous 30 days compared to those without a history of HCT. VCZ continues to remain an important option in the treatment and prevention of invasive fungal infections in an era when alternative oral mold-active triazoles are available. In spite of long-standing experience with VCZ prescribing, therapeutic level attainment remains a challenge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2022.05.030DOI Listing
August 2022

Impact of CD19 CAR T-cell product type on outcomes in relapsed or refractory aggressive B-NHL.

Blood 2022 06;139(26):3722-3731

Center for Hematologic Malignancies, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.

CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor-engineered (CD19 CAR) T cells are novel therapies showing great promise for patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). Single-arm studies showed significant variations in outcomes across distinct CD19 CAR T-cell products. To estimate the independent impact of the CAR T-cell product type on outcomes, we retrospectively analyzed data from 129 patients with R/R aggressive B-NHL treated with cyclophosphamide and fludarabine lymphodepletion followed by either a commercially available CD19 CAR T-cell therapy (axicabtagene ciloleucel [axicel] or tisagenlecleucel [tisacel]), or the investigational product JCAR014 on a phase 1/2 clinical trial (NCT01865617). After adjustment for age, hematopoietic cell transplantation-specific comorbidity index, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), largest lesion diameter, and absolute lymphocyte count (ALC), CAR T-cell product type remained associated with outcomes in multivariable models. JCAR014 was independently associated with lower cytokine release syndrome (CRS) severity compared with axicel (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.19; 95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.08-0.46), with a trend toward lower CRS severity with tisacel compared with axicel (aOR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.21-1.06; P = .07). Tisacel (aOR, 0.17; 95% CI, 0.06-0.48) and JCAR014 (aOR, 0.17; 95% CI, 0.06-0.47) were both associated with lower immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome severity compared with axicel. Lower odds of complete response (CR) were predicted with tisacel and JCAR014 compared with axicel. Although sensitivity analyses using either positron emission tomography- or computed tomography-based response criteria also suggested higher efficacy of axicel over JCAR014, the impact of tisacel vs axicel became undetermined. Higher preleukapheresis LDH, largest lesion diameter, and lower ALC were independently associated with lower odds of CR. We conclude that CD19 CAR T-cell product type independently impacts toxicity and efficacy in R/R aggressive B-NHL patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2021014497DOI Listing
June 2022

Managing hypogammaglobulinemia in patients treated with CAR-T-cell therapy: key points for clinicians.

Expert Rev Hematol 2022 04 11;15(4):305-320. Epub 2022 Apr 11.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Introduction: The unprecedented success of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy in the management of B-cell malignancies comes with a price of specific side effects. Healthy B-cell depletion is an anticipated 'on-target' 'off-tumor' side effect and can contribute to severe and prolonged hypogammaglobulinemia. Evidence-based guidelines for the use of immunoglobulin replacement therapy (IGRT) for infection prevention are lacking in this population.

Areas Covered: This article reviews the mechanisms and epidemiology of hypogammaglobulinemia and antibody deficiency, association with infections, and strategies to address these issues in CD19- and BCMA-CAR-T-cell recipients.

Expert Opinion: CD19 and BCMA CAR-T-cell therapy result in unique immune deficits due to depletion of specific B-lineage cells and may require different infection prevention strategies. Hypogammaglobulinemia before and after CAR-T-cell therapy is frequent, but data on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of IGRT are lacking. Monthly IGRT should be prioritized for patients with severe or recurrent bacterial infections. IGRT may be more broadly necessary to prevent infections in BCMA-CAR-T-cell recipients and children with severe hypogammaglobulinemia irrespective of infection history. Vaccinations are indicated to augment humoral immunity and can be immunogenic despite cytopenias; re-vaccination(s) may be required. Controlled trials are needed to better understand the role of IGRT and vaccines in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17474086.2022.2063833DOI Listing
April 2022

Pathogen-Specific Humoral Immunity and Infections in B Cell Maturation Antigen-Directed Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy Recipients with Multiple Myeloma.

Transplant Cell Ther 2022 06 11;28(6):304.e1-304.e9. Epub 2022 Mar 11.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington; Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington; Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy targeting B cell maturation antigen (BCMA-CARTx) is an emerging treatment for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (R/R MM). Here we characterize the epidemiology of infections, risk factors for infection, and pathogen-specific humoral immunity in patients receiving BCMA-CARTx for R/R MM. We performed a retrospective cohort study in 32 adults with R/R MM enrolled in 2 single-institution phase 1 clinical trials of BCMA-CARTx administered after lymphodepleting chemotherapy alone (n = 22) or with a gamma secretase inhibitor (GSI). We tested serum before and up to approximately 180 days after BCMA-CARTx for measles-specific IgG and for any viral-specific IgG using a systematic viral epitope scanning assay to describe the kinetics of total and pathogen-specific IgG levels pre- and post-BCMA-CARTx. We identified microbiologically documented infections to determine infection incidence and used Poisson regression to explore risk factors for infections within 180 days after BCMA-CARTx. Most individuals developed severe neutropenia, lymphopenia, and hypogammaglobulinemia after BCMA-CARTx. Grade ≥3 cytokine release syndrome (CRS; Lee criteria) occurred in 16% of the participants; 50% of the participants received corticosteroids and/or tocilizumab. Before BCMA-CARTx, 28 of 32 participants (88%) had an IgG <400 mg/dL, and only 5 of 27 (19%) had seropositive measles antibody titers. After BCMA-CARTx, all participants had an IgG <400 mg/dL and declining measles antibody titers; of the 5 individuals with baseline seropositive levels, 2 remained above the seroprotective threshold post-treatment. Participants with IgG MM (n = 13) had significantly fewer antibodies to a panel of viral antigens compared with participants with non-IgG MM (n = 6), both before and after BCMA-CARTx. In the first 180 days after BCMA-CARTx, 17 participants (53%) developed a total of 23 infections, of which 13 (57%) were mild-to-moderate viral infections. Serious infections were more frequent in the first 28 days post-treatment. Infections appeared to be more common in individuals with higher-grade CRS. Individuals with R/R MM have substantial deficits in humoral immunity. These data demonstrate the importance of plasma cells in maintaining long-lived pathogen-specific antibodies and suggest that BCMA-CARTx recipients need ongoing surveillance for late-onset infections. Most infections were mild-moderate severity viral infections. The incidence of early infection appears to be lower than has been reported after CD19-directed CARTx for B cell neoplasms, possibly due to differences in patient and disease characteristics and regimen-related toxicities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2022.03.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9197988PMC
June 2022

Multiple early factors anticipate post-acute COVID-19 sequelae.

Cell 2022 03 25;185(5):881-895.e20. Epub 2022 Jan 25.

Isoplexis Corporation, Branford, CT 06405, USA.

Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) represent an emerging global crisis. However, quantifiable risk factors for PASC and their biological associations are poorly resolved. We executed a deep multi-omic, longitudinal investigation of 309 COVID-19 patients from initial diagnosis to convalescence (2-3 months later), integrated with clinical data and patient-reported symptoms. We resolved four PASC-anticipating risk factors at the time of initial COVID-19 diagnosis: type 2 diabetes, SARS-CoV-2 RNAemia, Epstein-Barr virus viremia, and specific auto-antibodies. In patients with gastrointestinal PASC, SARS-CoV-2-specific and CMV-specific CD8 T cells exhibited unique dynamics during recovery from COVID-19. Analysis of symptom-associated immunological signatures revealed coordinated immunity polarization into four endotypes, exhibiting divergent acute severity and PASC. We find that immunological associations between PASC factors diminish over time, leading to distinct convalescent immune states. Detectability of most PASC factors at COVID-19 diagnosis emphasizes the importance of early disease measurements for understanding emergent chronic conditions and suggests PASC treatment strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2022.01.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8786632PMC
March 2022

Outpatient Remdesivir to Prevent Progression to Severe Covid-19. Reply.

N Engl J Med 2022 03 16;386(11):1094. Epub 2022 Feb 16.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2200591DOI Listing
March 2022

Assessing and restoring adaptive immunity to HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 in solid organ and hematopoietic cell transplant recipients.

Clin Microbiol Infect 2022 Feb 10. Epub 2022 Feb 10.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA; Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Background: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2, varicella zoster virus (VZV), and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) cause severe infections in immunocompromised hosts. Interventions to optimize virus-specific adaptive immunity may have advantages over antivirals in the prophylaxis and treatment of these infections.

Objectives: We sought to review adaptive immune responses and methods for assessing and replenishing cellular and humoral immunity to HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 in solid organ transplant and hematopoietic cell transplant recipients.

Sources: We searched PubMed for relevant studies on immune responses to HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 as well as studies describing methods for evaluating and restoring cell-mediated immunity to other double-stranded DNA viruses in transplant recipients. Recent studies, randomized controlled trials, and investigations highlighting key concepts in clinical virology were prioritized for inclusion.

Content: We describe the mechanisms of adaptive immunity to HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 and limitations of antivirals as prophylaxis and treatment for these infections in solid organ transplant and hematopoietic cell transplant recipients. We review methods for measuring and restoring cellular immunity to double-stranded DNA viruses; their potential applications to management of HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 in immunocompromised hosts; and barriers to clinical use. Vaccination and virus-specific T cell therapies are discussed in detail.

Implications: The growing repertoire of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques focused on virus-specific adaptive immunity provides a novel approach to management of viral infections in transplant recipients. Investigations to optimize such interventions specifically in HSV, VZV, and HHV-6 are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2022.02.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9363517PMC
February 2022

The impact of B-cell-directed therapy on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Br J Haematol 2022 05 18;197(3):306-309. Epub 2022 Feb 18.

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Prior reports evaluating SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) used semiquantitative measurements of anti-S to evaluate immunity; however, neutralization assays were used to assess functional immunity in the trials leading to vaccine approval. Here, we identified decreased rates of seroconversion in vaccinated CLL patients and lower anti-S levels compared to healthy controls. Notably, we demonstrated similar results with the Roche anti-S assay and neutralization activity. Durable responses were seen at six months; augmentation with boosters was possible in responding patients. Absence of normal B cells, frequently seen in patients receiving Bruton tyrosine kinase and B-cell lymphoma 2 inhibitors, was a strong predictor of lack of seroconversion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.18088DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9111753PMC
May 2022

Early Remdesivir to Prevent Progression to Severe Covid-19 in Outpatients.

N Engl J Med 2022 01 22;386(4):305-315. Epub 2021 Dec 22.

From Baylor University Medical Center and Baylor Scott and White Research Institute, Dallas (R.L.G.), and Care United Research, Forney (S.M.) - all in Texas; the Nuren Medical and Research Center, Miami (C.E.V.), Evolution Clinical Trials, Hialeah Gardens (G.P.), the Midland Florida Clinical Research Center, DeLand (G.O.), Luminous Clinical Research-South Florida Urgent Care, Pembroke Pines (A.H.), and Triple O Research Institute Professional Association, West Palm Beach (O.O.) - all in Florida; Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol and IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute, Barcelona (R.P.), and Hospital Universitario Infanta Leonor and Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute, Madrid (P.R.) - all in Spain; the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center, Tahlequah, OK (J.M.); Intermountain Healthcare (B.J.W., S.M.B.) and the University of Utah School of Medicine (S.M.B.) - both in Murray; Copenhagen University Hospital-Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen (B.U.N.); University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - both in London (M.B.); the Institute of Liver Health, Mesa, AZ (Y.S.); Kaiser Permanente, Oakland (J.S.), and Gilead Sciences, Foster City (K.J., R.H.H., A.O., S.C., G.C., M.A., S.D., N.B.-R., F.D.) - both in California; Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School - both in Boston (F.M.M.); Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore (M.J.K.); the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora (A.A.G.); and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine - both in Seattle (J.T.S., J.A.H.).

Background: Remdesivir improves clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with moderate-to-severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Whether the use of remdesivir in symptomatic, nonhospitalized patients with Covid-19 who are at high risk for disease progression prevents hospitalization is uncertain.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving nonhospitalized patients with Covid-19 who had symptom onset within the previous 7 days and who had at least one risk factor for disease progression (age ≥60 years, obesity, or certain coexisting medical conditions). Patients were randomly assigned to receive intravenous remdesivir (200 mg on day 1 and 100 mg on days 2 and 3) or placebo. The primary efficacy end point was a composite of Covid-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause by day 28. The primary safety end point was any adverse event. A secondary end point was a composite of a Covid-19-related medically attended visit or death from any cause by day 28.

Results: A total of 562 patients who underwent randomization and received at least one dose of remdesivir or placebo were included in the analyses: 279 patients in the remdesivir group and 283 in the placebo group. The mean age was 50 years, 47.9% of the patients were women, and 41.8% were Hispanic or Latinx. The most common coexisting conditions were diabetes mellitus (61.6%), obesity (55.2%), and hypertension (47.7%). Covid-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause occurred in 2 patients (0.7%) in the remdesivir group and in 15 (5.3%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.03 to 0.59; P = 0.008). A total of 4 of 246 patients (1.6%) in the remdesivir group and 21 of 252 (8.3%) in the placebo group had a Covid-19-related medically attended visit by day 28 (hazard ratio, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.56). No patients had died by day 28. Adverse events occurred in 42.3% of the patients in the remdesivir group and in 46.3% of those in the placebo group.

Conclusions: Among nonhospitalized patients who were at high risk for Covid-19 progression, a 3-day course of remdesivir had an acceptable safety profile and resulted in an 87% lower risk of hospitalization or death than placebo. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; PINETREE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04501952; EudraCT number, 2020-003510-12.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2116846DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8757570PMC
January 2022

Diagnosis of infectious diseases in immunocompromised hosts using metagenomic next generation sequencing-based diagnostics.

Blood Rev 2022 05 6;53:100906. Epub 2021 Nov 6.

Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States of America; Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, United States of America. Electronic address:

The diagnosis of infectious diseases in immunocompromised hosts presents unique challenges for the clinician. Metagenomic next generation sequencing (mNGS) based diagnostics that identify microbial nucleic acids in clinical samples (mNGS for pathogen identification or mNGSpi) may be a useful tool in addressing some of these challenges. Studies of mNGSpi in immunocompromised hosts have demonstrated that these diagnostics are capable of identifying causative organisms in a subset of patients for whom conventional testing has been negative. While these studies provide proof of concept for mNGSpi utility, they have a number of limitations, which make it difficult to confidently assess test performance and clinical impact based on current data. Future studies will likely feature larger cohort sizes and controlled interventional study designs that assess the impact of mNGSpi on clinical endpoints. They will also likely include assessments of the clinical value of data generated by mNGS beyond pathogen identification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.blre.2021.100906DOI Listing
May 2022

Humoral immunogenicity of the seasonal influenza vaccine before and after CAR-T-cell therapy: a prospective observational study.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 10;9(10)

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor-modified T (CAR-T) cell therapies for B cell malignancies have profound and prolonged immunodeficiencies and are at risk for serious infections, including respiratory virus infections. Vaccination may be important for infection prevention, but there are limited data on vaccine immunogenicity in this population. We conducted a prospective observational study of the humoral immunogenicity of commercially available 2019-2020 inactivated influenza vaccines in adults immediately prior to or while in durable remission after CD19-, CD20-, or B cell maturation antigen-targeted CAR-T-cell therapy, as well as controls. We tested for antibodies to all four vaccine strains using neutralization and hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) assays. Antibody responses were defined as at least fourfold titer increases from baseline. Seroprotection was defined as a HAI titer ≥40. Enrolled CAR-T-cell recipients were vaccinated 14-29 days prior to (n=5) or 13-57 months following therapy (n=13), and the majority had hypogammaglobulinemia and cellular immunodeficiencies prevaccination. Eight non-immunocompromised adults served as controls. Antibody responses to ≥1 vaccine strain occurred in 2 (40%) individuals before CAR-T-cell therapy and in 4 (31%) individuals vaccinated after CAR-T-cell therapy. An additional 1 (20%) and 6 (46%) individuals had at least twofold increases, respectively. One individual vaccinated prior to CAR-T-cell therapy maintained a response for >3 months following therapy. Across all tested vaccine strains, seroprotection was less frequent in CAR-T-cell recipients than in controls. There was evidence of immunogenicity even among individuals with low immunoglobulin, CD19 B cell, and CD4 T-cell counts. These data support consideration for vaccination before and after CAR-T-cell therapy for influenza and other relevant pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of hypogammaglobulinemia or B cell aplasia. However, relatively impaired humoral vaccine immunogenicity indicates the need for additional infection-prevention strategies. Larger studies are needed to refine our understanding of potential correlates of vaccine immunogenicity, and durability of immune responses, in CAR-T-cell therapy recipients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-003428DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8549667PMC
October 2021

Post-Transplantation Cyclophosphamide Is Associated with an Increase in Non-Cytomegalovirus Herpesvirus Infections in Patients with Acute Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome.

Transplant Cell Ther 2022 01 26;28(1):48.e1-48.e10. Epub 2021 Sep 26.

Division of Hematology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The use of post-transplantation cyclophosphamide (PTCy) for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis in recipients of haploidentical and fully matched transplantations is on the increase. Published studies have reported an increased incidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection with the use of PTCy. Limited data exist on the incidence and outcomes of infection with non-CMV herpesviruses (NCHV) in this setting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cumulative incidence of NCHV infections and the association of NCHV infections with transplantation-specific outcomes in recipients of haploidentical transplantation with PTCy (HaploCy), matched sibling donor transplantation with PTCy (SibCy), and matched sibling donor transplantation with calcineurin inhibitor-based prophylaxis (SibCNI). We hypothesized that, like CMV infection, HaploCy recipients of also will have a higher risk of NCHV infections. Using the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplantation Research database, we analyzed 2765 patients (HaploCy, n = 757; SibCNI, n = 1605; SibCy, n = 403) who had undergone their first hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) between 2012 and 2017 for acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or myelodysplastic syndrome. The cumulative incidence of NCHV at 6 months post-NCT was 13.9% (99% confidence interval], 10.8% to 17.3%) in the HaploCy group, 10.7% (99% CI, 7.1% to 15%) in the SibCy group, and 5.7% (99% CI, 4.3% to 7.3%) in the Sib CNI group (P < .001). This was due primarily to a higher frequency of human herpesvirus 6 viremia reported in patients receiving PTCy. The incidence of Epstein-Barr viremia was low in all groups, and no cases of post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder were seen in either PTCy group. The incidence of NCHV organ disease was low in all 3 cohorts. The development of NCHV infection was associated with increased treatment-related mortality, particularly in the HaploCy group. There was no association with the development of GVHD, relapse, or disease-free survival. Patients in PTCy cohorts who did not develop NCHV infection had lower rates of cGVHD. This study demonstrates that the use of PTCy is associated with an increased risk of NCHV infection. The development of NCHV infection was associated with increased nonrelapse mortality, especially in the HaploCy group. Prospective trials should consider viral surveillance strategies in conjunction with assessment of immune reconstitution for a better understanding of the clinical relevance of viral reactivation in different HCT settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.09.015DOI Listing
January 2022

Humoral Immunity After mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in Allogeneic HCT Recipients-Room for Improvement and Much to Learn.

Authors:
Joshua A Hill

JAMA Netw Open 2021 09 1;4(9):e2127454. Epub 2021 Sep 1.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.27454DOI Listing
September 2021

Delayed-onset cytomegalovirus infection is frequent after discontinuing letermovir in cord blood transplant recipients.

Blood Adv 2021 08;5(16):3113-3119

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)-seropositive umbilical cord blood transplantation (CBT) recipients have a high incidence of CMV-associated complications. There are limited data regarding the efficacy of letermovir for preventing clinically significant CMV infection (CS-CMVi), and the impact of letermovir prophylaxis on delayed-onset CMV reactivation after letermovir discontinuation, in CBT recipients. We compared the cumulative incidence of CS-CMVi and CMV detection in 21 CMV-seropositive CBT recipients receiving letermovir prophylaxis with a historical cohort of 40 CBT recipients receiving high-dose valacyclovir prophylaxis. Letermovir was administered on day +1 up to day +98. The cumulative incidence of CS-CMVi was significantly lower by day 98 in the letermovir cohort (19% vs 65%). This difference was lost by 1 year due to a higher incidence of delayed-onset CMV reactivation in the letermovir cohort. No patients developed CMV disease in the letermovir cohort within the first 98 days compared with 2 cases (2.4%) in the high-dose valacyclovir cohort; 2 patients developed CMV enteritis after discontinuing letermovir. Median viral loads were similar in both cohorts. Thus, letermovir is effective at preventing CS-CMVi after CBT, but frequent delayed-onset infections after letermovir discontinuation mandate close monitoring and consideration for extended prophylaxis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004362DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8405185PMC
August 2021

CMV and HSV Pneumonia After Immunosuppressive Agents for Treatment of Cytokine Release Syndrome Due to Chimeric Antigen Receptor-modified T (CAR-T)-Cell Immunotherapy.

J Immunother 2021 Nov-Dec 01;44(9):351-354

Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine.

Pneumonia due to cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus-1 caused substantial morbidity after hematopoietic cell transplantation before the institution of preventative approaches. End-organ disease from herpesviruses is poorly described after chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cell immunotherapy. We report 2 cases of cytomegalovirus pneumonia and 1 case of herpes simplex virus-1 gingivostomatitis, esophagitis, and pneumonia after chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cell immunotherapy for the treatment of hematologic malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CJI.0000000000000388DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8497421PMC
February 2022

Immunogenicity of a heterologous COVID-19 vaccine after failed vaccination in a lymphoma patient.

Cancer Cell 2021 08 26;39(8):1037-1038. Epub 2021 Jun 26.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA; University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, WA, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2021.06.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8233960PMC
August 2021

Association of Inherited Chromosomally Integrated Human Herpesvirus 6 with Neurologic Symptoms and Management after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 09 7;27(9):795.e1-795.e8. Epub 2021 Jun 7.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Seattle, Washington; Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Electronic address:

Reactivation of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is associated with neurologic complications, but the impact of donor and/or recipient inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (iciHHV-6) on post-HCT central nervous system (CNS) symptoms and diagnostic and therapeutic interventions is not well understood. The aims of the present study were (1) to compare the cumulative incidence of CNS symptoms in the first 100 days following allogeneic HCT among patients with donor and/or recipient iciHHV-6 (iciHHV-6)with that of patients with neither donor nor recipient iciHHV-6 (iciHHV-6) and (2) to assess the role of HHV-6 detection in driving potentially unnecessary interventions in iciHHV-6 patients. We performed a retrospective matched cohort study of 87 iciHHV-6 and 174 iciHHV-6 allogeneic HCT recipients. HHV-6 testing was performed at the discretion of healthcare providers, who were unaware of iciHHV-6 status. The cumulative incidence of CNS symptoms was similar in iciHHV-6 (n = 37; 43%) and iciHHV-6 HCT recipients (n = 81; 47%; P = .63). HHV-6 plasma testing was performed in similar proportions of iciHHV-6 (n = 6; 7%) and iciHHV-6 (9%) patients and was detected in all tested iciHHV-6 HCTs and 2 (13%) iciHHV-6 HCTs. This resulted in more frequent HHV-6-targeted antiviral therapy after iciHHV-6 HCT (odds ratio, 12.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.5 to 108.2) with associated side effects. HHV-6 plasma detection in 2 iciHHV-6 patients without active CNS symptoms prompted unnecessary lumbar punctures. The cumulative incidence of CNS symptoms was similar after allogeneic HCT involving recipients or donors with and without iciHHV-6. Misattribution of HHV-6 detection as infection after iciHHV-6 HCT may lead to unnecessary interventions. Testing for iciHHV-6 may improve patient management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.05.029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403634PMC
September 2021

A eulogy for Dr Francisco Miguel Marty Forero.

Transpl Infect Dis 2021 Aug 13;23(4):e13645. Epub 2021 Jun 13.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA.

As some of those who were lucky enough to have been mentored by Dr Francisco Marty in transplant infectious diseases, we stand with the larger medical community in mourning his untimely death and in commemorating him as a uniquely exceptional and talented physician, investigator, teacher, mentor, friend, artist, and human being.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tid.13645DOI Listing
August 2021

Humoral immunogenicity of the seasonal influenza vaccine before and after CAR-T-cell therapy.

medRxiv 2021 May 11. Epub 2021 May 11.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA.

Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor-modified T (CAR-T) cell therapies for B-cell malignancies are immunocompromised and at risk for serious infections. Vaccine immunogenicity is unknown in this population. We conducted a prospective observational study of the humoral immunogenicity of 2019-2020 inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) in children and adults immediately prior to (n=7) or 13-57 months after (n=15) CD19-, CD20-, or BCMA-targeted CAR-T-cell therapy, as well as controls (n=8). Individuals post-CAR-T-cell therapy were in remission. We tested for antibodies to 4 vaccine strains at baseline and ≥1 time point after IIV using neutralization and hemagglutination inhibition assays. An antibody response was defined as a ≥4-fold titer increase from baseline at the first post-vaccine time point. Baseline A(H1N1) titers in the CAR-T cohorts were significantly lower compared to controls. Antibody responses to ≥1 vaccine strain occurred in 2 (29%) individuals before CAR-T-cell therapy; one individual maintained a response for >3 months post-CAR-T-cell therapy. Antibody responses to ≥1 vaccine strain occurred in 6 (40%) individuals vaccinated after CAR-T-cell therapy. An additional 2 (29%) and 6 (40%) individuals had ≥2-fold increases (at any time) in the pre- and post-CAR-T cohorts, respectively. There were no identified clinical or immunologic predictors of antibody responses. Neither severe hypogammaglobulinemia nor B-cell aplasia precluded antibody responses. These data support consideration for vaccination before and after CAR-T-cell therapy for influenza and other relevant pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of hypogammaglobulinemia or B-cell aplasia. Larger studies are needed to determine correlates of vaccine immunogenicity and durability in CAR-T-cell therapy recipients.

Key Points: Influenza vaccination was immunogenic pre- and post-CAR-T-cell therapy, despite hypogammaglobulinemia and B-cell aplasia.Vaccination with inactivated vaccines can be considered before CAR-T-cell therapy and in individuals with remission after therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.10.21256634DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132269PMC
May 2021

Shared inflammatory pathways and therapeutic strategies in COVID-19 and cancer immunotherapy.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 05;9(5)

Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA

COVID-19, the syndrome caused by the infection with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, is characterized, in its severe form, by interstitial diffuse pneumonitis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS and systemic manifestations of COVID-19 are mainly due to an exaggerated immune response triggered by the viral infection. Cytokine release syndrome (CRS), an inflammatory syndrome characterized by elevated levels of circulating cytokines, and endothelial dysfunction are systemic manifestations of COVID-19. CRS is also an adverse event of immunotherapy (IMTX), the treatment of diseases using drugs, cells, and antibodies to stimulate or suppress the immune system. Graft-versus-host disease complications after an allogeneic stem cell transplant, toxicity after the infusion of chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapy and monoclonal antibodies can all lead to CRS. It is hypothesized that anti-inflammatory drugs used for treatment of CRS in IMTX may be useful in reducing the mortality in COVID-19, whereas IMTX itself may help in ameliorating effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this paper, we focused on the potential shared mechanisms and differences between COVID-19 and IMTX-related toxicities. We performed a systematic review of the clinical trials testing anti-inflammatory therapies and of the data published from prospective trials. Preliminary evidence suggests there might be a benefit in targeting the cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of COVID-19, especially by inhibiting the interleukin-6 pathway. Many other approaches based on novel drugs and cell therapies are currently under investigation and may lead to a reduction in hospitalization and mortality due to COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002392DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8126446PMC
May 2021

Guidelines for Infection Prophylaxis, Monitoring and Therapy in Cord Blood Transplantation.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 05;27(5):359-362

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

As an alternative stem cell source, cord blood (CB) has many advantages. However, delayed engraftment, lack of transferred immunity, and a significant incidence of acute graft-versus-host disease renders CB transplant (CBT) recipients at high risk of infectious complications. This guidance written by CBT and infectious disease experts outlines evidence-based recommendations for the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections in adult patients undergoing CBT. Topics addressed include bacterial, fungal, viral, pneumocystis jirovcii and toxoplasmosis prophylaxis, suggested PCR monitoring for viruses, therapy for the most commonly encountered infections after CBT. We review key concepts including the recent important role of letermovir in the prevention of CMV reactivation. In instances where there is a paucity of data, practice recommendations are provided, including the duration of antimicrobial prophylaxis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.01.024DOI Listing
May 2021

Outcomes of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation in Patients with Mixed Response to Pretransplantation Treatment of Confirmed or Suspected Invasive Fungal Infection.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 08 5;27(8):684.e1-684.e9. Epub 2021 May 5.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington; Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Patients with hematologic malignancy or bone marrow failure are typically required to achieve radiographic improvement or stabilization of invasive fungal infection (IFI) before hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) owing to a concern for progression before engraftment. Refractory IFI with a mixture of improvement and progression on serial imaging (ie, mixed response) poses a clinical dilemma, because a delay in HCT may allow for a hematologic relapse or other complications. Furthermore, HCT itself may yield the immune reconstitution necessary for clearance of infection. We sought to describe the characteristics and outcomes of patients who underwent HCT with mixed response IFI. We performed a chart review of all patients who underwent HCT between 2014 and 2020 in whom imaging within 6 weeks before HCT indicated a mixed response to treatment of a diagnosed IFI. Fourteen patients had evidence of a mixed response in low-to-moderate burden of diagnosed IFI by imaging before HCT, including 9 with pulmonary aspergillosis, 2 with hepatosplenic candidiasis (1 also with aspergillosis), and 4 with pulmonary nodules of presumed fungal etiology. Five had refractory severe neutropenia at evaluation for HCT (median, 95 days). All 14 patients showed radiographic stability or improvement in imaging following engraftment; no IFI-related surgeries were required, and no IFI-related deaths occurred. For patients without relapse who underwent HCT more than 1 year earlier, 7 of 8 (88%) were alive at 1 year. Our findings suggest that low-to-moderate burden IFI with mixed response is unlikely to progress on appropriate therapy before engraftment during allogeneic HCT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.04.021DOI Listing
August 2021

Antibodies against vaccine-preventable infections after CAR-T cell therapy for B cell malignancies.

JCI Insight 2021 06 8;6(11). Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.

BACKGROUNDLittle is known about pathogen-specific humoral immunity after chimeric antigen receptor-modified T (CAR-T) cell therapy for B cell malignancies.METHODSWe conducted a prospective cross-sectional study of CD19-targeted or B cell maturation antigen-targeted (BCMA-targeted) CAR-T cell therapy recipients at least 6 months posttreatment and in remission. We measured pathogen-specific IgG against 12 vaccine-preventable infections and the number of viral and bacterial epitopes to which IgG was detected ("epitope hits") using a serological profiling assay. The primary outcome was the proportion of participants with IgG levels above a threshold correlated with seroprotection for vaccine-preventable infections.RESULTSWe enrolled 65 children and adults a median of 20 months after CD19- (n = 54) or BCMA- (n = 11) CAR-T cell therapy. Among 30 adults without IgG replacement therapy (IGRT) in the prior 16 weeks, 27 (90%) had hypogammaglobulinemia. These individuals had seroprotection to a median of 67% (IQR, 59%-73%) of tested infections. Proportions of participants with seroprotection per pathogen were comparable to population-based studies, but most individuals lacked seroprotection to specific pathogens. Compared with CD19-CAR-T cell recipients, BCMA-CAR-T cell recipients were half as likely to have seroprotection (prevalence ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.18-1.25) and had fewer pathogen-specific epitope hits (mean difference, -90 epitope hits; 95% CI, -157 to -22).CONCLUSIONSeroprotection for vaccine-preventable infections in adult CD19-CAR-T cell recipients was comparable to the general population. BCMA-CAR-T cell recipients had fewer pathogen-specific antibodies. Deficits in both groups support the need for vaccine and immunoglobulin replacement therapy studies.FUNDINGSwiss National Science Foundation (Early Postdoc Mobility grant P2BSP3_188162), NIH/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) (U01CA247548 and P01CA018029), NIH/NCI Cancer Center Support Grants (P30CA0087-48 and P30CA015704-44), American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, and Juno Therapeutics/BMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.146743DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262349PMC
June 2021

Challenges and Opportunities for COVID-19 Vaccines in Patients with Cancer.

Cancer Invest 2021 Mar 18;39(3):205-213. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Given the rapidly expanding global spread of the SARS-Co-V-2 virus and the expanding number of individuals with the serious and potentially fatal illness, COVID-19, there is an urgent need for safe and effective vaccines. Based on compelling evidence that patients with cancer are at increased risk for greater morbidity and mortality with COVID-19, several professional organizations have provided early guidance on the role of COVID-19 vaccines in patients with malignant disease. In this commentary we review the available data on the efficacy and safety of the approved and forthcoming vaccines in patients with cancer. Based on a review of the totality of available evidence, we recommend that most patients with cancer should receive the recommended dose and schedule of one of the COVID-19 vaccines when available. We encourage industry, regulators and professional research organizations to carefully track the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccination in patients with cancer in the real world setting and routinely report unanticipated adverse events and signs of loss of efficacy. Particular attention is needed for patients on active cancer therapy to carefully evaluate efficacy and safety in relationship to the timing of vaccination relative to that of active cancer treatment and immunosuppression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07357907.2021.1885596DOI Listing
March 2021

Beyond the storm - subacute toxicities and late effects in children receiving CAR T cells.

Nat Rev Clin Oncol 2021 06 25;18(6):363-378. Epub 2021 Jan 25.

Pediatric Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

As clinical advances with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are increasingly described and the potential for extending their therapeutic benefit grows, optimizing the implementation of this therapeutic modality is imperative. The recognition and management of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) marked a milestone in this field; however, beyond the understanding gained in treating CRS, a host of additional toxicities and/or potential late effects of CAR T cell therapy warrant further investigation. A multicentre initiative involving experts in paediatric cell therapy, supportive care and/or study of late effects from cancer and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation was convened to facilitate the comprehensive study of extended CAR T cell-mediated toxicities and establish a framework for new systematic investigations of CAR T cell-related adverse events. Together, this group identified six key focus areas: extended monitoring of neurotoxicity and neurocognitive function, psychosocial considerations, infection and immune reconstitution, other end organ toxicities, evaluation of subsequent neoplasms, and strategies to optimize remission durability. Herein, we present the current understanding, gaps in knowledge and future directions of research addressing these CAR T cell-related outcomes. This systematic framework to study extended toxicities and optimization strategies will facilitate the translation of acquired experience and knowledge for optimal application of CAR T cell therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41571-020-00456-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8335746PMC
June 2021

Unbiased optical mapping of telomere-integrated endogenous human herpesvirus 6.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 12 23;117(49):31410-31416. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Institut für Virologie, Freie Universität Berlin, 14163 Berlin, Germany;

Next-generation sequencing technologies allowed sequencing of thousands of genomes. However, there are genomic regions that remain difficult to characterize, including telomeres, centromeres, and other low-complexity regions, as well as transposable elements and endogenous viruses. Human herpesvirus 6A and 6B (HHV-6A and HHV-6B) are closely related viruses that infect most humans and can integrate their genomes into the telomeres of infected cells. Integration also occurs in germ cells, meaning that the virus can be inherited and result in individuals harboring the virus in every cell of their body. The integrated virus can reactivate and cause disease in humans. While it is well established that the virus resides in the telomere region, the integration locus is poorly defined due to the low sequence complexity (TTAGGG)n of telomeres that cannot be easily resolved through sequencing. We therefore employed genome imaging of the integrated HHV-6A and HHV-6B genomes using whole-genome optical site mapping technology. Using this technology, we identified which chromosome arm harbors the virus genome and obtained a high-resolution map of the integration loci of multiple patients. Surprisingly, this revealed long telomere sequences at the virus-subtelomere junction that were previously missed using PCR-based approaches. Contrary to what was previously thought, our technique revealed that the telomere lengths of chromosomes harboring the integrated virus genome were comparable to the other chromosomes. Taken together, our data shed light on the genetic structure of the HHV-6A and HHV-6B integration locus, demonstrating the utility of optical mapping for the analysis of genomic regions that are difficult to sequence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2011872117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7733811PMC
December 2020

Tocilizumab in hospitalized patients with COVID-19: Clinical outcomes, inflammatory marker kinetics, and safety.

J Med Virol 2021 04 22;93(4):2270-2280. Epub 2020 Nov 22.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 causes substantial morbidity. Tocilizumab, an interleukin-6 receptor antagonist, might improve outcomes by mitigating inflammation. We conducted a retrospective study of patients admitted to the University of Washington Hospital system with COVID-19 and requiring supplemental oxygen. Outcomes included clinical improvement, defined as a two-point reduction in severity on a six-point ordinal scale or discharge, and mortality within 28 days. We used Cox proportional-hazards models with propensity score inverse probability weighting to compare outcomes in patients who did and did not receive tocilizumab. We evaluated 43 patients who received tocilizumab and 45 who did not. Patients receiving tocilizumab were younger with fewer comorbidities but higher baseline oxygen requirements. Tocilizumab treatment was associated with reduced C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and temperature, but there were no meaningful differences in time to clinical improvement (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.92; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.38-2.22) or mortality (aHR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.21-1.52). A numerically higher proportion of tocilizumab-treated patients had subsequent infections, transaminitis, and cytopenias. Tocilizumab did not improve outcomes in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. However, this study was not powered to detect small differences, and there remains the possibility for a survival benefit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmv.26674DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753799PMC
April 2021
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