AbstractRelapse after anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CD19-CAR) occurs in a substantial proportion of patients with lymphoid malignancies. We assessed the potential benefits of co-administering CD20-targeting bispecific antibodies (CD20-BsAbs) with CD19-CAR T cells with the aim of enhancing immunotherapeutic efficacy. Addition of CD20-BsAbs to cocultures of CD19-CARs and primary samples of B-cell malignancies, comprising malignant B cells and endogenous T cells, significantly improved killing of malignant cells and enhanced the expansion of both endogenous T cells and CD19-CAR T cells. In an immunocompetent mouse model of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, relapse after initial treatment response frequently occurred after CD19-CAR T-cell monotherapy. Additional treatment with CD20-BsAbs significantly enhanced the treatment response and led to improved eradication of malignant cells. Higher efficacy was accompanied by improved T-cell expansion with CD20-BsAb administration and led to longer survival with 80% of the mice being cured with no detectable malignant cell population within 8 weeks of therapy initiation. Collectively, our in vitro and in vivo data demonstrate enhanced therapeutic efficacy of CD19-CAR T cells when combined with CD20-BsAbs in B-cell malignancies. Activation and proliferation of both infused CAR T cells and endogenous T cells may contribute to improved disease control.

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