Press Releases

Yescarta® (Axicabtagene Ciloleucel) Demonstrates High Rates of Response in Relapsed or Refractory Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

-- 93 Percent of Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Follicular Lymphoma and Marginal Zone Lymphoma Responded to a Single Infusion of Yescarta, with 80 Percent Achieving a Complete Response --

-- Data Presented in an Oral Session During the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting --

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Kite, a Gilead Company (Nasdaq: GILD), today announced results from an interim analysis of ZUMA-5, a global, multicenter, single-arm, open-label Phase 2 study evaluating Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in adult patients with relapsed or refractory indolent (slow growing) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after at least two prior lines of therapy. After a single infusion of Yescarta, 93 percent of patients (n=96 evaluable for efficacy) responded, with 80 percent of patients achieving a complete response (CR) as assessed by an independent review committee. The data were presented in an oral session during the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting held from May 29-31 (Abstract #8008). The presentation has also been selected for a Highlights of the Day session as part of ASCO’s 2020 Virtual Scientific Program on Saturday, May 30 at 11:30 am ET. The Highlights sessions recap the most impactful science from the oral sessions.

Pending results from the primary analysis at 12 months, Kite plans to submit a supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year to expand the indication for Yescarta. Yescarta has previously been granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) by the FDA for relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL) or marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) (two types of indolent NHL) after at least two prior therapies. If approved, Yescarta would become the first and only chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T therapy approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory indolent NHLs.

“People living with certain indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas, such as follicular lymphoma, can experience relapses with increasing frequency and develop a more aggressive disease over time despite available treatments,” said Caron A. Jacobson, MD, Medical Director, Immune Effector Cell Therapy Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “Thus, the strong overall response and complete response rates demonstrating the potential of this therapy is extremely promising for these patients.”

Ninety-five percent of patients with relapsed or refractory FL (n=80) who had received at least two prior lines of systemic therapy responded to Yescarta, including 81 percent of patients achieving a CR and 68 percent of patients in an ongoing response after at least nine months of follow-up as per independent review committee assessment. Of patients with relapsed or refractory MZL (n=16), 81 percent responded to Yescarta, with 75 percent achieving a CR after at least one month of follow-up as per independent review committee assessment. With a median follow-up of 15.3 months in all patients, median duration of response (DOR) was 20.8 months, median progression-free survival (PFS) was 23.5 months and median overall survival (OS) was not reached.

In the safety analysis of 140 treated patients with FL or MZL, Grade 3 or higher cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurologic events occurred in 8 percent and 17 percent of patients, respectively. There were two Grade 5 adverse events in patients with FL, including one patient with multisystem organ failure in the context of CRS related to treatment with Yescarta and one patient with aortic dissection unrelated to Yescarta treatment. The primary analysis with 12 months of follow-up is ongoing.

“Yescarta is substantially improving outcomes for people with certain relapsed and refractory cancers, such as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma,” said Ken Takeshita, MD, Kite’s Global Head of Clinical Development. “These results from ZUMA-5 support our assessment that Yescarta has the potential to provide benefit in indolent NHL, and we look forward to sharing results from the primary analysis in patients with relapsed or refractory disease later this year.”

Yescarta has not been approved by any regulatory agency for the treatment of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including follicular lymphoma or marginal zone lymphoma. Its safety and efficacy have not been established in these lymphomas.

Yescarta was the first CAR T cell therapy to be approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), and high grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from FL. Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. The Yescarta U.S. Prescribing Information has a BOXED WARNING for the risks of CRS and neurologic toxicities, and Yescarta is approved with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) due to these risks; see below for Important Safety Information.

About Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma (FL) and marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) are both forms of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in which malignant tumors slowly grow but can become more aggressive over time.

FL is the most common form of indolent lymphoma and the second most common type of lymphoma globally.It accounts for approximately 22 percent of all lymphomas diagnosed worldwide. MZL is the third most common lymphoma, accounting for 8 to 12 percent of all B-cell NHLs.

Despite advances in management and substantial improvements in long-term survival, patients living with FL have varied outcomes. Currently, there are no standard of care treatments for relapsed and refractory FL after two or more lines of therapy, and there are limited options for the treatment of relapsed or refractory MZL.

About ZUMA-5

ZUMA-5 is a single-arm, multicenter, open-label Phase 2 study that aims to enroll up to 160 adult patients (≥18 years old) with relapsed or refractory iNHL of either follicular lymphoma (FL) or marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) subtypes, who received at least two prior lines of systemic therapy, including an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody combined with an alkylating agent. The objectives of the study are to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a single infusion of Yescarta in this patient population. The primary endpoint of the trial is objective response rate (ORR) as assessed by an independent review committee per the 2014 Lugano Classification. Secondary endpoints include CR rate, DOR, PFS, OS, safety and CAR T cell and cytokines levels. The study is ongoing.

U.S. Important Safety Information for Yescarta


  • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), including fatal or life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients receiving Yescarta. Do not administer Yescarta to patients with active infection or inflammatory disorders. Treat severe or life-threatening CRS with tocilizumab or tocilizumab and corticosteroids.
  • Neurologic toxicities, including fatal or life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients receiving Yescarta, including concurrently with CRS or after CRS resolution. Monitor for neurologic toxicities after treatment with Yescarta. Provide supportive care and/or corticosteroids as needed.
  • Yescarta is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Yescarta REMS.

CYTOKINE RELEASE SYNDROME (CRS) occurred in 94% of patients, with 13% ≥ Grade 3. Among patients who died after receiving Yescarta, 4 had ongoing CRS at death. The median time to onset was 2 days (range: 1-12 days) and median duration was 7 days (range: 2-58 days). Key manifestations include fever (78%), hypotension (41%), tachycardia (28%), hypoxia (22%), and chills (20%). Serious events that may be associated with CRS include cardiac arrhythmias (including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia), cardiac arrest, cardiac failure, renal insufficiency, capillary leak syndrome, hypotension, hypoxia, and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis/macrophage activation syndrome. Ensure that 2 doses of tocilizumab are available prior to Yescarta infusion. Following infusion, monitor patients for signs and symptoms of CRS at least daily for 7 days at the certified healthcare facility, and for 4 weeks thereafter. Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms of CRS occur at any time. At the first sign of CRS, institute treatment with supportive care, tocilizumab or tocilizumab and corticosteroids as indicated.

NEUROLOGIC TOXICITIES occurred in 87% of patients, 98% of which occurred within the first 8 weeks with a median time to onset of 4 days (range: 1-43 days) and a median duration of 17 days. Grade ≥3 occurred in 31% of patients. The most common neurologic toxicities included encephalopathy (57%), headache (44%), tremor (31%), dizziness (21%), aphasia (18%), delirium (17%), insomnia (9%), and anxiety (9%). Prolonged encephalopathy lasting up to 173 days was noted. Serious events including leukoencephalopathy and seizures, as well as fatal and serious cases of cerebral edema have occurred. Following Yescarta infusion, monitor patients for signs and symptoms of neurologic toxicities at least daily for 7 days at the certified healthcare facility, and for 4 weeks thereafter, and treat promptly.

REMS: Because of the risk of CRS and neurologic toxicities, Yescarta is available only through a restricted program called the Yescarta REMS which requires that: Healthcare facilities that dispense and administer Yescarta must be enrolled and comply with the REMS requirements and must have on-site, immediate access to a minimum of 2 doses of tocilizumab for each patient for infusion within 2 hours after Yescarta infusion, if needed for treatment of CRS. Certified healthcare facilities must ensure that healthcare providers who prescribe, dispense, or administer Yescarta are trained about the management of CRS and neurologic toxicities. Further information is available at or 1-844-454-KITE (5483).

HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTIONS: Allergic reactions, including serious hypersensitivity reactions or anaphylaxis, may occur with the infusion of Yescarta.

SERIOUS INFECTIONS: Severe or life-threatening infections occurred. Infections (all grades) occurred in 38% of patients. Grade ≥3 infections occurred in 23% of patients; those due to an unspecified pathogen occurred in 16% of patients, bacterial infections in 9%, and viral infections in 4%. Yescarta should not be administered to patients with clinically significant active systemic infections. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection before and after infusion and treat appropriately. Administer prophylactic anti-microbials according to local guidelines. Febrile neutropenia was observed in 36% of patients and may be concurrent with CRS. In the event of febrile neutropenia, evaluate for infection and manage with broad spectrum antibiotics, fluids, and other supportive care as medically indicated. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation, in some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, and death, can occur in patients treated with drugs directed against B cells. Perform screening for HBV, HCV, and HIV in accordance with clinical guidelines before collection of cells for manufacturing.

PROLONGED CYTOPENIAS: Patients may exhibit cytopenias for several weeks following lymphodepleting chemotherapy and Yescarta infusion. Grade ≥3 cytopenias not resolved by Day 30 following Yescarta infusion occurred in 28% of patients and included thrombocytopenia (18%), neutropenia (15%), and anemia (3%). Monitor blood counts after infusion.

HYPOGAMMAGLOBULINEMIA and B-cell aplasia can occur. Hypogammaglobulinemia occurred in 15% of patients. Monitor immunoglobulin levels after treatment and manage using infection precautions, antibiotic prophylaxis, and immunoglobulin replacement. The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines during or following Yescarta treatment has not been studied. Vaccination with live virus vaccines is not recommended for at least 6 weeks prior to the start of lymphodepleting chemotherapy, during Yescarta treatment, and until immune recovery following treatment.

SECONDARY MALIGNANCIES may develop. Monitor life-long for secondary malignancies. In the event that one occurs, contact Kite at 1-844-454-KITE (5483) to obtain instructions on patient samples to collect for testing.

EFFECTS ON ABILITY TO DRIVE AND USE MACHINES: Due to the potential for neurologic events, including altered mental status or seizures, patients are at risk for altered or decreased consciousness or coordination in the 8 weeks following Yescarta infusion. Advise patients to refrain from driving and engaging in hazardous occupations or activities, such as operating heavy or potentially dangerous machinery, during this initial period.

ADVERSE REACTIONS: The most common (incidence ≥20%) include CRS, fever, hypotension, encephalopathy, tachycardia, fatigue, headache, decreased appetite, chills, diarrhea, febrile neutropenia, infections-pathogen unspecified, nausea, hypoxia, tremor, cough, vomiting, dizziness, constipation, and cardiac arrhythmias.

About Kite

Kite, a Gilead Company, is a biopharmaceutical company based in Santa Monica, California. Kite is engaged in the development of innovative cancer immunotherapies. The company is focused on chimeric antigen receptor and T cell receptor engineered cell therapies. For more information on Kite, please visit

About Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. The company strives to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world. Gilead has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California. For more information on Gilead Sciences, please visit the company’s website at

Forward-Looking Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements, within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including Kite’s ability to submit an sBLA to the FDA to expand the indication of Yescarta for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory iNHL in the anticipated timelines or at all and the risk that FDA may not approve the sBLA in the anticipated timelines or at all, and any marketing approvals, if granted, may have significant limitations on its use. There is also the possibility of unfavorable results from other ongoing and additional clinical trials involving Yescarta for the treatment of relapsed or refractory iNHL and other indications and the possibility that Kite may be unable to complete such trials in the currently anticipated timelines or at all. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties and other factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. The reader is cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These and other risks are described in detail in Gilead’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to Gilead and Kite, and Gilead and Kite assume no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements.

U.S. Prescribing Information for Yescarta, including BOXED WARNING, is available at and

Yescarta is a trademark of Kite Pharma, Inc.

For more information on Kite, please visit the company’s website at or call Gilead Public Affairs at 1-800-GILEAD-5 or 1-650-574-3000. Follow Kite on social media on Twitter (@KitePharma) and LinkedIn.

Douglas Maffei, PhD, Investors
(650) 522-2739

Nathan Kaiser, Media
(650) 522-1853

Source: Kite, a Gilead Company