Featured Publications

Freitas, K. A., Belk, J. A., Sotillo, E., Quinn, P. J., Ramello, M. C., Malipatlolla, M., ... & Mackall, C. L. (2022). Enhanced T cell effector activity by targeting the Mediator kinase module. Science378(6620).

Good, Z., Spiegel, J.Y., Sahaf, B., Malipatlolla, M., Ehlinger, Z., Kurra, S.... & Mackall, C. L. (2022). Post-infusion CAR TReg cells identify patients resistant to CD19-CAR therapy. Nature Medicine28(9), 1860-1871.

Labanieh, L., Majzner, R. G., Klysz, D., Sotillo, E., Fisher, C. J., Vilches-Moure, J. G., ... & Mackall, C. L. (2022). Enhanced safety and efficacy of protease-regulated CAR-T cell receptors. Cell185(10), 1745-1763.

Majzner, R. G., Ramakrishna, S., Yeom, K. W., Patel, S., Chinnasamy, H., Schultz, L. M., Richards, R. M., Jiang, L., Barsan, V., Mancusi, R., Geraghty, A. C., Good, Z., Mochizuki, A. Y., Gillespie, S. M., Toland, A., Mahdi, J., Reschke, A., Nie, E., Chau, I. J., Rotiroti, M. C., … Monje, M. (2022). GD2-CAR T cell therapy for H3K27M-mutated diffuse midline gliomas. Nature, 603(7903), 934-941.

Theruvath, J., Menard, M., Smith, B., Linde, M. H., Coles, G. L., Dalton, G. N., Wu, W., Kiru, L., Delaidelli, A., Sotillo, E., Silberstein, J. L., Geraghty, A. C., Banuelos, A., Radosevich, M. T., Dhingra, S., Heitzeneder, S., Tousley, A., Lattin, J., Xu, P., Huang, J., … Majzner, R. G. (2022). Anti-GD2 synergizes with CD47 blockade to mediate tumor eradication. Nature Medicine28(2), 333-344.

Heitzeneder, S., Bosse, K. R., Zhu, Z., Zhelev, D., Majzner, R. G., Radosevich, M. T., Dhingra, S., Sotillo, E., Buongervino, S., Pascual-Pasto, G., Garrigan, E., Xu, P., Huang, J., Salzer, B., Delaidelli, A., Raman, S., Cui, H., Martinez, B., Bornheimer, S. J., Sahaf, B., … Mackall, C. L. (2021). GPC2-CAR T cells tuned for low antigen density mediate potent activity against neuroblastoma without toxicity. Cancer Cell, S1535-6108(21)00658-9.

Richards, R. M., Zhao, F., Freitas, K. A., Parker, K. R., Xu, P., Fan, A., Sotillo, E., Daugaard, M., Oo, H. Z., Liu, J., Hong, W.-J., Sorensen, P. H., Chang, H. Y., Satpathy, A. T., Majzner, R. G., Majeti, R., & Mackall, C. L. (2021). Not-gated CD93 CAR T cells effectively target AML with minimized endothelial cross-reactivity. Blood Cancer Discovery2(6), 648.

Gennert, D. G., Lynn, R. C., Granja, J. M., Weber, E. W., Mumbach, M. R., Zhao, Y., Duren, Z., Sotillo, E., Greenleaf, W. J., Wong, W. H., Satpathy, A. T., Mackall, C. L., & Chang, H. Y. (2021). Dynamic chromatin regulatory landscape of human CAR T cell exhaustion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(30), e2104758118.

Weber, E. W., Parker, K. R., Sotillo, E., Lynn, R. C., Anbunathan, H., Lattin, J., Good, Z., Belk, J. A., Daniel, B., Klysz, D., Malipatlolla, M., Xu, P., Bashti, M., Heitzeneder, S., Labanieh, L., Vandris, P., Majzner, R. G., Qi, Y., Sandor, K., Chen, L. C., … Mackall, C. L. (2021). Transient rest restores functionality in exhausted CAR-T cells through epigenetic remodeling. Science, 372(6537), eaba1786.

Theruvath, J., Sotillo, E., Mount, C. W., Graef, C. M., Delaidelli, A., Heitzeneder, S., Labanieh, L., Dhingra, S., Leruste, A., Majzner, R. G., Xu, P., Mueller, S., Yecies, D. W., Finetti, M. A., Williamson, D., Johann, P. D., Kool, M., Pfister, S., Hasselblatt, M., Frühwald, M. C., … Mackall, C. L. (2020). Locoregionally administered B7-H3-targeted CAR T cells for treatment of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. Nature Medicine, 26(5), 712–719.

Weber, E. W., Maus, M. V., & Mackall, C. L. (2020). The Emerging Landscape of Immune Cell Therapies. Cell, 181(1), 46–62. 

Majzner, R. G., Rietberg, S. P., Sotillo, E., Dong, R., Vachharajani, V. T., Labanieh, L., Myklebust, J. H., Kadapakkam, M., Weber, E. W., Tousley, A. M., Richards, R. M., Heitzeneder, S., Nguyen, S. M., Wiebking, V., Theruvath, J., Lynn, R. C., Xu, P., Dunn, A. R., Vale, R. D., & Mackall, C. L. (2020). Tuning the Antigen Density Requirement for CAR T-cell Activity. Cancer Discovery, 10(5), 702–723.

Lynn, R. C., Weber, E. W., Sotillo, E., Gennert, D., Xu, P., Good, Z., Anbunathan, H., Lattin, J., Jones, R., Tieu, V., Nagaraja, S., Granja, J., de Bourcy, C., Majzner, R., Satpathy, A. T., Quake, S. R., Monje, M., Chang, H. Y., & Mackall, C. L. (2019). c-Jun overexpression in CAR T cells induces exhaustion resistance. Nature, 576(7786), 293–300.

Majzner, R. G., & Mackall, C. L. (2019). Clinical lessons learned from the first leg of the CAR T cell journey. Nature Medicine, 25(9), 1341–1355.

Majzner, R. G., Theruvath, J. L., Nellan, A., Heitzeneder, S., Cui, Y., Mount, C. W., Rietberg, S. P., Linde, M. H., Xu, P., Rota, C., Sotillo, E., Labanieh, L., Lee, D. W., Orentas, R. J., Dimitrov, D. S., Zhu, Z., Croix, B. S., Delaidelli, A., Sekunova, A., Bonvini, E., … Mackall, C. L. (2019). CAR T Cells Targeting B7-H3, a Pan-Cancer Antigen, Demonstrate Potent Preclinical Activity Against Pediatric Solid Tumors and Brain Tumors. Clinical Cancer Research25(8), 2560–2574.

Labanieh, L., Majzner, R. G., & Mackall, C. L. (2018). Programming CAR-T cells to kill cancer. Nature Biomedical Engineering2(6), 377–391.

Long, A. H., Haso, W. M., Shern, J. F., Wanhainen, K. M., Murgai, M., Ingaramo, M., Smith, J. P., Walker, A. J., Kohler, M. E., Venkateshwara, V. R., Kaplan, R. N., Patterson, G. H., Fry, T. J., Orentas, R. J., & Mackall, C. L. (2015). 4-1BB costimulation ameliorates T cell exhaustion induced by tonic signaling of chimeric antigen receptors. Nature Medicine, 21(6), 581–590.

All Publications


  • Determinants of resistance to engineered T cell therapies targeting CD19 in large B cell lymphomas. Cancer cell Sworder, B. J., Kurtz, D. M., Alig, S. K., Frank, M. J., Shukla, N., Garofalo, A., Macaulay, C. W., Shahrokh Esfahani, M., Olsen, M. N., Hamilton, J., Hosoya, H., Hamilton, M., Spiegel, J. Y., Baird, J. H., Sugio, T., Carleton, M., Craig, A. F., Younes, S. F., Sahaf, B., Sheybani, N. D., Schroers-Martin, J. G., Liu, C. L., Oak, J. S., Jin, M. C., Beygi, S., Hüttmann, A., Hanoun, C., Dührsen, U., Westin, J. R., Khodadoust, M. S., Natkunam, Y., Majzner, R. G., Mackall, C. L., Diehn, M., Miklos, D. B., Alizadeh, A. A. 2022


    Most relapsed/refractory large B cell lymphoma (r/rLBCL) patients receiving anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR19) T cells relapse. To characterize determinants of resistance, we profiled over 700 longitudinal specimens from two independent cohorts (n = 65 and n = 73) of r/rLBCL patients treated with axicabtagene ciloleucel. A method for simultaneous profiling of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), cell-free CAR19 (cfCAR19) retroviral fragments, and cell-free T cell receptor rearrangements (cfTCR) enabled integration of tumor and both engineered and non-engineered T cell effector-mediated factors for assessing treatment failure and predicting outcomes. Alterations in multiple classes of genes are associated with resistance, including B cell identity (PAX5 and IRF8), immune checkpoints (CD274), and those affecting the microenvironment (TMEM30A). Somatic tumor alterations affect CAR19 therapy at multiple levels, including CAR19 T cell expansion, persistence, and tumor microenvironment. Further, CAR19 T cells play a reciprocal role in shaping tumor genotype and phenotype. We envision these findings will facilitate improved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and personalized therapeutic approaches.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ccell.2022.12.005

    View details for PubMedID 36584673

  • The impact of race, ethnicity, and obesity on CAR T-cell therapy outcomes. Blood advances Faruqi, A. J., Ligon, J. A., Borgman, P., Steinberg, S. M., Foley, T., Little, L., Mackall, C. L., Lee, D. W., Fry, T. J., Shalabi, H., Brudno, J., Yates, B., Mikkilineni, L., Kochenderfer, J., Shah, N. N. 2022; 6 (23): 6040-6050


    Cancer outcomes with chemotherapy are inferior in patients of minority racial/ethnic groups and those with obesity. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has transformed outcomes for relapsed/refractory hematologic malignancies, but whether its benefits extend commensurately to racial/ethnic minorities and patients with obesity is poorly understood. With a primary focus on patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), we retrospectively evaluated the impact of demographics and obesity on CAR T-cell therapy outcomes in adult and pediatric patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CAR T-cell therapy across 5 phase 1 clinical trials at the National Cancer Institute from 2012 to 2021. Among 139 B-ALL CAR T-cell infusions, 28.8% of patients were Hispanic, 3.6% were Black, and 29.5% were overweight/obese. No significant associations were found between race, ethnicity, or body mass index (BMI) and complete remission rates, neurotoxicity, or overall survival. Hispanic patients were more likely to experience severe cytokine release syndrome compared with White non-Hispanic patients even after adjusting for leukemia disease burden and age (odds ratio, 4.5; P = .001). A descriptive analysis of patients with multiple myeloma (n = 24) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 23) displayed a similar pattern to the B-ALL cohort. Our findings suggest CAR T-cell therapy may provide substantial benefit across a range of demographics characteristics, including for those populations who are at higher risk for chemotherapy resistance and relapse. However, toxicity profiles may vary. Therefore, efforts to improve access to CAR therapy for underrepresented populations and elucidate mechanisms of differential toxicity among demographic groups should be prioritized.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2022007676

    View details for PubMedID 35939781

  • Enhanced T cell effector activity by targeting the Mediator kinase module. Science (New York, N.Y.) Freitas, K. A., Belk, J. A., Sotillo, E., Quinn, P. J., Ramello, M. C., Malipatlolla, M., Daniel, B., Sandor, K., Klysz, D., Bjelajac, J., Xu, P., Burdsall, K. A., Tieu, V., Duong, V. T., Donovan, M. G., Weber, E. W., Chang, H. Y., Majzner, R. G., Espinosa, J. M., Satpathy, A. T., Mackall, C. L. 2022; 378 (6620): eabn5647


    T cells are the major arm of the immune system responsible for controlling and regressing cancers. To identify genes limiting T cell function, we conducted genome-wide CRISPR knockout screens in human chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. Top hits were MED12 and CCNC, components of the Mediator kinase module. Targeted MED12 deletion enhanced antitumor activity and sustained the effector phenotype in CAR- and T cell receptor-engineered T cells, and inhibition of CDK8/19 kinase activity increased expansion of nonengineered T cells. MED12-deficient T cells manifested increased core Meditator chromatin occupancy at transcriptionally active enhancers-most notably for STAT and AP-1 transcription factors-and increased IL2RA expression and interleukin-2 sensitivity. These results implicate Mediator in T cell effector programming and identify the kinase module as a target for enhancing potency of antitumor T cell responses.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abn5647

    View details for PubMedID 36356142

  • A Phase I/II Trial of Nivolumab Plus Ipilimumab in Children and Young Adults with Relapsed/Refractory Solid Tumors: A Children's Oncology Group Study ADVL1412. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research Davis, K. L., Fox, E., Isikwei, E., Reid, J. M., Liu, X., Minard, C. G., Voss, S., Berg, S. L., Weigel, B. J., Mackall, C. L. 2022


    PURPOSE: In many cancers, nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab improves response rates compared to either agent alone, but the combination has not been evaluated in childhood cancer. We conducted a Phase I/II trial of nivolumab plus ipilimumab in children and young adults with recurrent/refractory solid tumors.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: ADVL1412, Part C assessed safety of nivolumab plus ipilimumab at two dose levels (DL): DL1 1mg/kg of each drug and DL2 3mg/kg nivolumab plus 1mg/kg Ipilimumab. Part D evaluated response at the recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D) in Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. Part E tested DL3 (1mg/kg nivolumab plus 3mg/kg Ipilimumab) in Ewing sarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. Tumor response was measured using RECIST v1.1. Pharmacokinetics and PD-L1 expression on archival tissues were assessed.RESULTS: Fifty-five eligible patients enrolled. Based upon safety, tolerability and similar drug exposure to the same doses administered in adults, DL2 was defined as the pediatric RP2D. Among 41 patients treated at the RP2D, 2 patients experienced dose-limiting toxicities during Cycle 1 and 4 patients experienced toxicities beyond that period. Two patients had clinically significant sustained partial responses (1 rhabdomyosarcoma, 1 Ewing sarcoma) and 4 had stable disease. Among 8 patients treated at DL3, 3 DLTs occurred, all immune related adverse events; no objective responses were observed.CONCLUSIONS: The RP2D of nivolumab (3mg/kg) plus ipilimumab (1mg/kg) is well-tolerated in children and young adults with solid tumors and shows some clinical activity. Increased dose of ipilimumab (3mg/kg) plus nivolumab (1mg/kg) was associated with increased toxicity without clinical benefit.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-2164

    View details for PubMedID 36190525

  • Outcomes After Nonresponse and Relapse Post-Tisagenlecleucel in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults With B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Schultz, L. M., Eaton, A., Baggott, C., Rossoff, J., Prabhu, S., Keating, A. K., Krupski, C., Pacenta, H., Philips, C. L., Talano, J., Moskop, A., Baumeister, S. H., Myers, G. D., Karras, N. A., Brown, P. A., Qayed, M., Hermiston, M., Satwani, P., Wilcox, R., Rabik, C. A., Fabrizio, V. A., Chinnabhandar, V., Kunicki, M., Mavroukakis, S., Egeler, E., Li, Y., Mackall, C. L., Curran, K. J., Verneris, M. R., Laetsch, T. W., Stefanski, H. 2022: JCO2201076


    PURPOSE: Nonresponse and relapse after CD19-chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy continue to challenge survival outcomes. Phase II landmark data from the ELIANA trial demonstrated nonresponse and relapse rates of 14.5% and 28%, respectively, whereas use in the real-world setting showed nonresponse and relapse rates of 15% and 37%. Outcome analyses describing fate after post-CAR nonresponse and relapse remain limited. Here, we aim to establish survival outcomes after nonresponse and both CD19+ and CD19- relapses and explore treatment variables associated with inferior survival.METHODS: We conducted a retrospective multi-institutional study of 80 children and young adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia experiencing nonresponse (n = 23) or relapse (n = 57) after tisagenlecleucel. We analyze associations between baseline characteristics and these outcomes and establish survival rates and salvage approaches.RESULTS: The overall survival (OS) at 12 months was 19% across nonresponders (n = 23; 95% CI, 7 to 50). Ninety-five percent of patients with nonresponse had high preinfusion disease burden. Among 156 morphologic responders, the cumulative incidence of relapse was 37% (95% CI, 30 to 47) at 12 months (CD19+; 21% [15 to 29], CD19-; 16% [11 to 24], median follow-up; 380 days). Across 57 patients experiencing relapse, the OS was 52% (95% CI, 38 to 71) at 12 months after time of relapse. Notably, CD19- relapse was associated with significantly decreased OS as compared with patients who relapsed with conserved CD19 expression (CD19- 12-month OS; 30% [14 to 66], CD19+ 12-month OS; 68% [49 to 92], P = .0068). Inotuzumab, CAR reinfusion, and chemotherapy were used as postrelapse salvage therapy with greatest frequency, yet high variability in treatment sequencing and responses limits efficacy analysis across salvage approaches.CONCLUSION: We describe poor survival across patients experiencing nonresponse to tisagenlecleucel. In the post-tisagenlecleucel relapse setting, patients can be salvaged; however, CD19- relapse is distinctly associated with decreased survival outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.22.01076

    View details for PubMedID 36108252