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  • Low rate of nonrelapse mortality in under-4-year-olds with ALL given chemotherapeutic conditioning for HSCT: a phase 3 FORUM study. Blood advances Bader, P., Pötschger, U., Dalle, J. H., Moser, L. M., Balduzzi, A., Ansari, M., Buechner, J., Güngör, T., Ifversen, M., Krivan, G., Pichler, H., Renard, M., Staciuk, R., Sedlacek, P., Stein, J., Heusel, J. R., Truong, T., Wachowiak, J., Yesilipek, A., Locatelli, F., Peters, C. 2024; 8 (2): 416-428


    Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is highly effective for treating pediatric high-risk or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). For young children, total body irradiation (TBI) is associated with severe late sequelae. In the FORUM study (NCT01949129), we assessed safety, event-free survival (EFS), and overall survival (OS) of 2 TBI-free conditioning regimens in children aged <4 years with ALL. Patients received fludarabine (Flu), thiotepa (Thio), and either busulfan (Bu) or treosulfan (Treo) before HSCT. From 2013 to 2021, 191 children received transplantation and were observed for ≥6 months (median follow-up: 3 years). The 3-year OS was 0.63 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.52-0.72) and 0.76 (95% CI, 0.64-0.84) for Flu/Thio/Bu and Flu/Thio/Treo (P = .075), respectively. Three-year EFS was 0.52 (95% CI, 0.41-0.61) and 0.51 (95% CI, 0.39-0.62), respectively (P = .794). Cumulative incidence of nonrelapse mortality (NRM) and relapse at 3 years were 0.06 (95% CI, 0.02-0.12) vs 0.03 (95% CI: <0.01-0.09) (P = .406) and 0.42 (95% CI, 0.31-0.52) vs 0.45 (95% CI, 0.34-0.56) (P = .920), respectively. Grade >1 acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) occurred in 29% of patients receiving Flu/Thio/Bu and 17% of those receiving Flu/Thio/Treo (P = .049), whereas grade 3/4 occurred in 10% and 9%, respectively (P = .813). The 3-year incidence of chronic GVHD was 0.07 (95% CI, 0.03-0.13) vs 0.05 (95% CI, 0.02-0.11), respectively (P = .518). In conclusion, both chemotherapeutic conditioning regimens were well tolerated and NRM was low. However, relapse was the major cause of treatment failure. This trial was registered at as #NCT01949129.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2023010591

    View details for PubMedID 37738088

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10827403

  • Challenges in the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia: insights from the pediatric real world CAR consortium regarding nonresponse and relapse post tisagenlecleucel. Translational pediatrics Bader, P., Moser, L. M. 2023; 12 (12): 2095-2098

    View details for DOI 10.21037/tp-23-421

    View details for PubMedID 38197106

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10772837

  • ErbB2 (HER2)-CAR-NK-92 cells for enhanced immunotherapy of metastatic fusion-driven alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Frontiers in immunology Heim, C., Moser, L. M., Kreyenberg, H., Bonig, H. B., Tonn, T., Wels, W. S., Gradhand, E., Ullrich, E., Meister, M. T., Koerkamp, M. G., Holstege, F. C., Drost, J., Klusmann, J. H., Bader, P., Merker, M., Rettinger, E. 2023; 14: 1228894


    Metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a challenging tumor entity that evades conventional treatments and endogenous antitumor immune responses, highlighting the need for novel therapeutic strategies. Applying chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology to natural killer (NK) cells may offer safe, effective, and affordable therapies that enhance cancer immune surveillance.Here, we assess the efficacy of clinically usable CAR-engineered NK cell line NK-92/5.28.z against ErbB2-positive RMS in vitro and in a metastatic xenograft mouse model.Our results show that NK-92/5.28.z cells effectively kill RMS cells in vitro and significantly prolong survival and inhibit tumor progression in mice. The persistence of NK-92/5.28.z cells at tumor sites demonstrates efficient antitumor response, which could help overcome current obstacles in the treatment of solid tumors.These findings encourage further development of NK-92/5.28.z cells as off-the-shelf immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic RMS.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1228894

    View details for PubMedID 37662907

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10471977

  • Bone Marrow Assessment in Liver Cirrhosis Patients with Otherwise Unexplained Peripheral Blood Cytopenia. Journal of clinical medicine Koschade, S. E., Moser, L. M., Sokolovskiy, A., Michael, F. A., Serve, H., Brandts, C. H., Finkelmeier, F., Zeuzem, S., Trebicka, J., Ferstl, P., Ballo, O. 2023; 12 (13)


    We performed a retrospective single-center analysis to investigate the diagnostic yield of bone marrow puncture in patients with liver cirrhosis and cytopenia. Liver cirrhosis patients receiving bone marrow aspiration or biopsy for the diagnostic work-up of otherwise unexplained peripheral blood cytopenia at our institution between 2004 and 2020 were enrolled in this study. We evaluated findings from cytologic, histologic and immunologic assessment and final diagnostic outcomes. A total of 118 patients with a median age of 55 years and a median Child-Pugh score of B (8 points) were enrolled. The main etiologies of liver cirrhosis were viral hepatitis (B and C) or chronic alcohol consumption. The majority of patients (60%) exhibited concurrent anemia, leukocytopenia and thrombocytopenia. Bone marrow assessment revealed normal, unspecific or reactive alterations in 117 out of 118 patients (99%). One patient was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. Our findings suggest that peripheral blood cytopenia in patients with liver cirrhosis is rarely associated with a primary bone marrow pathology.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/jcm12134373

    View details for PubMedID 37445409

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10342445

  • Donor-type red blood cell transfusion to deplete isoagglutinins prior to allogeneic stem cell transplantation from ABO major incompatible bone marrow donors. British journal of haematology Jarisch, A., Salzmann-Manrique, E., Soerensen, J., Sach, G., Rettinger, E., Willasch, A., Bakhtiar, S., Klarmann, D., Bräuninger, S., Moser, L., Fekadu, J., Hutter, M., Klingebiel, T., Klusmann, J. H., Bader, P., Bonig, H. 2023; 201 (6): 1159-1168


    ABO incompatibility affects approximately 40% of allogeneic stem cell transplants in Caucasian patient populations. Because bone marrow (BM), the preferred graft from paediatric sibling donors and for non-malignant diseases, has a red blood cell (RBC) content similar to blood, anti-donor isoagglutinins must either be depleted from the recipient or RBCs removed from the graft. To achieve tolerability of unmanipulated BM grafts, we used controlled infusions of donor ABO-type RBC units to deplete isoagglutinins before the transplant. This retrospective study evaluates the outcomes of 52 ABO major incompatible BM transplants performed at our centre between 2007 and 2019. The use of donor-type RBC transfusions was well tolerated. They effectively reduced isoagglutinins levels, typically achieving target titres after one (60%) or two (29%) transfusions. The approach allowed for successful and uneventful infusions of unmanipulated BM which provided timely engraftment. The transplant outcomes were not inferior to those of a matched-pair control group of patients with ABO-identical donors.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.18761

    View details for PubMedID 36949601

  • Treatment of inborn errors of immunity patients with inflammatory bowel disease phenotype by allogeneic stem cell transplantation. British journal of haematology Moser, L. M., Fekadu, J., Willasch, A., Rettinger, E., Sörensen, J., Jarisch, A., Kirwil, M., Lieb, A., Holzinger, D., Calaminus, G., Bader, P., Bakhtiar, S. 2023; 200 (5): 595-607


    Patients with inborn errors of immunity (IEI) can suffer from treatment-refractory inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causing failure to thrive and consequences of long-term multiple immunosuppressive treatments. Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) can serve as a curative treatment option. In this single-centre retrospective cohort study we report on 11 paediatric and young adult IEI patients with IBD and failure to thrive, who had exhausted symptomatic treatment options and received alloHSCT. The cohort included chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), lipopolysaccharide-responsive and beige-like anchor protein (LRBA) deficiency, STAT3 gain-of-function (GOF), Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS), dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8) deficiency and one patient without genetic diagnosis. All patients achieved stable engraftment and immune reconstitution, and gastrointestinal symptoms were resolved after alloHSCT. The overall survival was 11/11 over a median follow-up of 34.7 months. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was limited to grade I-II acute GVHD (n = 5), one case of grade IV acute GVHD and one case of limited chronic GVHD. Since treatment recommendations are limited, this work provides a centre-specific approach to treatment prior to transplant as well as conditioning in IEI patients with severe IBD.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.18497

    View details for PubMedID 36214981

  • Translatome proteomics identifies autophagy as a resistance mechanism to on-target FLT3 inhibitors in acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia Koschade, S. E., Klann, K., Shaid, S., Vick, B., Stratmann, J. A., Thölken, M., Meyer, L. M., Nguyen, T. D., Campe, J., Moser, L. M., Hock, S., Baker, F., Meyer, C. T., Wempe, F., Serve, H., Ullrich, E., Jeremias, I., Münch, C., Brandts, C. H. 2022; 36 (10): 2396-2407


    Internal tandem duplications (ITD) in the receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 occur in 25 % of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, drive leukemia progression and confer a poor prognosis. Primary resistance to FLT3 kinase inhibitors (FLT3i) quizartinib, crenolanib and gilteritinib is a frequent clinical challenge and occurs in the absence of identifiable genetic causes. This suggests that adaptive cellular mechanisms mediate primary resistance to on-target FLT3i therapy. Here, we systematically investigated acute cellular responses to on-target therapy with multiple FLT3i in FLT3-ITD + AML using recently developed functional translatome proteomics (measuring changes in the nascent proteome) with phosphoproteomics. This pinpointed AKT-mTORC1-ULK1-dependent autophagy as a dominant resistance mechanism to on-target FLT3i therapy. FLT3i induced autophagy in a concentration- and time-dependent manner specifically in FLT3-ITD + cells in vitro and in primary human AML cells ex vivo. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of autophagy increased the sensitivity to FLT3-targeted therapy in cell lines, patient-derived xenografts and primary AML cells ex vivo. In mice xenografted with FLT3-ITD + AML cells, co-treatment with oral FLT3 and autophagy inhibitors synergistically impaired leukemia progression and extended overall survival. Our findings identify a molecular mechanism responsible for primary FLT3i treatment resistance and demonstrate the pre-clinical efficacy of a rational combination treatment strategy targeting both FLT3 and autophagy induction.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41375-022-01678-y

    View details for PubMedID 35999260

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9522593

  • Retargeting of NK-92 Cells against High-Risk Rhabdomyosarcomas by Means of an ERBB2 (HER2/Neu)-Specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor. Cancers Gossel, L. D., Heim, C., Pfeffermann, L. M., Moser, L. M., Bönig, H. B., Klingebiel, T. E., Bader, P., Wels, W. S., Merker, M., Rettinger, E. 2021; 13 (6)


    The dismal prognosis of pediatric and young adult patients with high-risk rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) underscores the need for novel treatment options for this patient group. In previous studies, the tumor-associated surface antigen ERBB2 (HER2/neu) was identified as targetable in high-risk RMS. As a proof of concept, in this study, a novel treatment approach against RMS tumors using a genetically modified natural killer (NK)-92 cell line (NK-92/5.28.z) as an off-the-shelf ERBB2-chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered cell product was preclinically explored. In cytotoxicity assays, NK-92/5.28.z cells specifically recognized and efficiently eliminated RMS cell suspensions, tumor cell monolayers, and 3D tumor spheroids via the ERBB2-CAR even at effector-to-target ratios as low as 1:1. In contrast to unmodified parental NK-92 cells, which failed to lyse RMS cells, NK-92/5.28.z cells proliferated and became further activated through contact with ERBB2-positive tumor cells. Furthermore, high amounts of effector molecules, such as proinflammatory and antitumoral cytokines, were found in cocultures of NK-92/5.28.z cells with tumor cells. Taken together, our data suggest the enormous potential of this approach for improving the immunotherapy of treatment-resistant tumors, revealing the dual role of NK-92/5.28.z cells as CAR-targeted killers and modulators of endogenous adaptive immunity even in the inhibitory tumor microenvironment of high-risk RMS.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/cancers13061443

    View details for PubMedID 33809981

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8004684

  • ERBB2-CAR-Engineered Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells Exhibit Both CAR-Mediated and Innate Immunity Against High-Risk Rhabdomyosarcoma. Frontiers in immunology Merker, M., Wagner, J., Kreyenberg, H., Heim, C., Moser, L. M., Wels, W. S., Bonig, H., Ivics, Z., Ullrich, E., Klingebiel, T., Bader, P., Rettinger, E. 2020; 11: 581468


    High-risk rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) occurring in childhood to young adulthood is associated with a poor prognosis; especially children above the age of 10 with advanced stage alveolar RMS still succumb to the disease within a median of 2 years. The advent of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered T cells marked significant progress in the treatment of refractory B cell malignancies, but experience for solid tumors has proven challenging. We speculate that this is at least in part due to the poor quality of the patient's own T cells and therefore propose using CAR-modified cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells as effector cells. CIK cells are a heterogeneous population of polyclonal T cells that acquire phenotypic and cytotoxic properties of natural killer (NK) cells through the cultivation process, becoming so-called T-NK cells. CIK cells can be genetically modified to express CARs. They are minimally alloreactive and can therefore be acquired from haploidentical first-degree relatives. Here, we explored the potential of ERBB2-CAR-modified random-donor CIK cells as a treatment for RMS in xenotolerant mice bearing disseminated high-risk RMS tumors. In otherwise untreated mice, RMS tumors engrafted 13-35 days after intravenous tumor cell injection, as shown by in vivo bioluminescence imaging, immunohistochemistry, and polymerase chain reaction for human gDNA, and mice died shortly thereafter (median/range: 62/56-66 days, n = 5). Wild-type (WT) CIK cells given at an early stage delayed and eliminated RMS engraftment in 4 of 6 (67%) mice, while ERBB2-CAR CIK cells inhibited initial tumor load in 8 of 8 (100%) mice. WT CIK cells were detectable but not as active as CAR CIK cells at distant tumor sites. CIK cell therapies during advanced RMS delayed but did not inhibit tumor progression compared to untreated controls. ERBB2-CAR CIK cell therapy also supported innate immunity as evidenced by selective accumulation of NK and T-NK cell subpopulations in disseminated RMS tumors, which was not observed for WT CIK cells. Our data underscore the power of heterogenous immune cell populations (T, NK, and T-NK cells) to control solid tumors, which can be further enhanced with CARs, suggesting ERBB2-CAR CIK cells as a potential treatment for high-risk RMS.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2020.581468

    View details for PubMedID 33193388

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7641627