A Phase I Study of HERV-E TCR Transduced Autologous T Cells in Patients With Metastatic Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2032
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Updated on 18 October 2022
platelet count
white blood cell count
measurable disease
treatment regimen
neutrophil count
tumor cells
chemotherapy drugs
hepatitis b antigen
clear cell renal cell carcinoma



Gene transfer is a new cancer therapy takes white blood cells from a person and grows them in a lab. The cells are changed with a virus to attack tumor cells, then returned to the person. Researchers want to see if this therapy fights kidney cancer cells.


To see if gene transfer is safe and causes tumors to shrink.


People at least 18 years old with certain kidney cancer


Participants will be screened with blood and urine tests. They may have:

  • Scans
  • Heart, lung, and eye tests
  • Lab tests
  • Tumor samples taken

Participants will have leukapheresis. Blood will be removed by a needle in an arm. It will go through a machine that removes white blood cells. Plasma and red cells will be returned through a needle in the participant s other arm.

Participants cells will be grown in the lab and genetically changed.

Participants will stay in the hospital 2-3 weeks. There they will:

  • Get 2 chemotherapy drugs by catheter (thin plastic tube) inserted into a vein in the chest.
  • Get the changed cells via catheter.
  • Get a drug to increase white blood cell count and one to make the cells active.
  • Recover for about a week.
  • Have lab and blood tests.

After leaving the hospital, participants will:

  • Take an antibiotic for several months.
  • Have leukapheresis.
  • Have one- or two-day clinic visits every few weeks for 2 years, and then as determined by their doctor. These will include blood and lab tests, imaging studies, and physical exam.

Participants will have follow-up checks for up to 15 years.

Sponsoring Institute: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute



Metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is an incurable condition. Current therapy for this disease consists of the serial administration of agents such as VEGF, mTOR inhibitors and immunotherapy (high-dose (HD) IL-2 or immune-checkpoint inhibitors). Long-term survival can be achieved with high-doses IL-2 or immune-checkpoint inhibitors. However, of those patients treated with immunotherapy, three quarters will not respond at all and only 5-8% will achieve a complete and durable response.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is also capable of inducing prolonged disease regression in patients with metastatic clear cell RCC (ccRCC). In vitro studies have established that transplanted donor T-cells targeting antigens expressed on RCC cells mediate these anti-tumor effects. However, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation can be toxic and associated with a 10-20% risk of procedure-related mortality. The observation that transplanted donor T-cells have the potential to cure a subset of patients with metastatic disease forms the basis for continued efforts in our laboratory to harness the power of T-cells to cure this disorder.

Our team isolated a tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) line from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained after an allogeneic transplant from a patient who showed prolonged tumor regression. Using limiting dilution cloning, we identified an allogeneic (derived from the stem cell donor) CD8+ T-cell clone that killed ccRCC cells in an HLA A11 restricted fashion. Using cDNA expression cloning, we identified a HERV-E derived antigen expressed in the patient s ccRCC cells to be the target of this T-cell clone. Remarkably, we found this HERV-E was expressed in the majority of ccRCC cells with no expression in normal tissues. Based on the identification of the antigenicity of the HERV-E transcripts in ccRCC, our team in collaboration with Dr. Nishimura s laboratory (Loyola University Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center) has cloned, expressed and characterized the TCR from this CD8+ T-cell clone that recognizes an HLA A11 restricted HERV-E antigen.

This research protocol is therefore designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of infusion of HERV-E TCR transduced CD8+/CD34+ enriched T cells in HLA-A*11:01 positive patients with metastatic clear cell RCC. Subjects will receive a novel non-myeloablative immunosuppressive conditioning regimen of cyclophosphamide and fludarabine followed by an infusion of HERV-E TCR transduced CD8+/CD34+ enriched T cells. To mediate T cell survival and sustain function, moderate-doses of IL-2 (aldesleukin) will be administered intravenously twice a day for 14 doses.

The primary endpoint is safety by day 21. Secondary endpoints will include overall response rate, progression-free survival and overall survival. Exploratory studies will include persistence of circulating HERV-E TCR transduced CD8+/CD34+ enriched T cells, changes in immune cell subsets and activation status of T cells, as well as, other immunologic determinants with clinical outcomes at baseline, at different time points during treatment and at the time of disease progression.

Condition Kidney Cancer
Treatment cell infusion
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03354390
SponsorNational Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Last Modified on18 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Patients must have histologically confirmed RCC with clear-cell component by the Laboratory of Pathology of the NIH and/or outside Pathology Department prior to entering this study
Patients must be HLA-A 11:01 positive (confirmed by HLA typing at the NIH DTM)
Patients must have measurable disease and have disease progression during or after the last treatment regimen and within 6 months before study enrollment
Patients must have received at least one antiangiogenic drug and an immune-checkpoint inhibitor (i.e. nivolumab) unless the patient has contraindications to receiving these medications, the agents are not available to the patient, or the patient declines to receive these drugs due to personal preference
Patients must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry, the duration of study participation and 180 days (female patients) or 90 days (male patients) after the end of the treatment if sexually active and able to bear or beget children. In addition, male patients must refrain from sperm donation for 90 days after the final dose of investigational product. Female patients must refrain from egg cell donation for 180 days after the final dose of investigational product
Patients must be between the ages of 18 and 75 years
Patient must have an anticipated life expectancy of at least 3 months
Patients must have a performance status of 0 or 1 ECOG performance status (PS) scale
Patients must have a caregiver willing to stay with them during the first month of treatment (30 days +/- 7 days)
Patients receiving treatment with bisphosphonates or denosumab are eligible for enrollment if on a stable dose for greater than or equal to 4 weeks
Seronegative for HIV antibody. (The experimental treatment being evaluated in this protocol depends on an intact immune system. Patients who are HIV seropositive can have decreased immune-competence and thus be less responsive to the experimental treatment and more susceptible to its toxicities.)
Seronegative for hepatitis B antigen, and seronegative for hepatitis C antibody. If hepatitis C antibody test is positive, then patient must be tested for the presence of antigen by RT-PCR and be HCV RNA negative
Organ Function
Absolute neutrophil count greater than or equal to 500/ microL
WBC greater than or equal to 1500/microL
Platelet count greater than or equal to 75.000/microL (without transfusional support
Serum AST/ALT less than or equal to 2.5 x upper limit of normal (ULN)
Total bilirubin less than or equal to 1.5 mg/dl except for patients with Gilbert s syndrome who must have a total bilirubin less than or equal to 3 mg/dl
Creatinine clearance greater than or equal to 50 ml/min/1.73m^2 by the method of CKI-EPI or >=50 ml/min by the method of 24h Clearence of Creatinine Calculation
INR < 1.5
Estimated left ventricular ejection fraction by echocardiography greater than or equal to 45%
Predicted DLCO / Alveolar Volume Adjusted by PFT >= 45%

Exclusion Criteria

Patients that require immediate therapy due to tumor mass effects or spinal cord compression
Patients must not have had standard of care anti-VEGFR therapy (mean half-life around 30 hours), mTOR inhibitors (mean half-life around 30 hours), at least for the last 7 days prior to T-cell infusion and radiotherapy, or major surgery within the last 2 weeks prior to T-cell infusion. For PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors or CTLA-4 inhibitors, a 4-week period must have elapsed before T-cell infusion. For recent experimental therapies a 28-day period must have elapsed before infusing expanded T-cells
Patients with active CNS involvement by malignancy either by imaging or cerebrospinal fluid involvement or biopsy-proven (due to poor prognosis and potential for neurological dysfunction that would confound evaluation of neurological and other adverse events) except for
Patients with 3 or fewer brain metasteses of <1cm treated with either stereotactic or gamma knife radiotherapy and remained stable on MRI for 2 weeks are eligible
Patients with surgically resected brain metastases and no evidence of active disease in the CNS at the time of screening evaluation are eligible
Patients with hypercalcemia (>10 mg/dL) of malignancy
Any prior Grade (Bullet) 3 immune-related adverse event (irAE) while receiving immunotherapy, including anti-CTLA4 treatment that requires long-term immunosuppressive therapy. Note: Active or history of vitiligo or hypothyroidism will not be a basis for exclusion
Patients with second malignancies in addition to their clear cell RCC are not eligible if the second malignancy has required systemic treatment within the past 4 years or is not in complete remission. There are exceptions to this criterion: successfully treated non-metastatic basal cell, squamous cell skin carcinoma, in situ non-invasive cervical cancer and in situ non-invasive breast cancer
Women of child-bearing potential who are pregnant or breastfeeding because of the potentially dangerous effects of the preparative chemotherapy on the fetus or infant
Active coagulation disorders or other major uncontrolled medical illnesses of the respiratory, endocrine, renal, gastrointestinal, genitourinary or immune system, uncontrolled systemic infection, active obstructive or restrictive pulmonary disease
Patients who have recent history of cerebrovascular accident, transient ischemic attack should be cleared by the neurology consult service before enrolling this study
Patients who have recent history of coronary artery disease or cardiac arrhythmia should be cleared by the cardiology consult service before enrolling this study
Any form of primary immunodeficiency (such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease)
Patients with autoimmune diseases such as Crohn s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis or pancreatitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus that requires treatment with chronic immunosuppressive therapy
Systemic corticosteroid steroid therapy of any dose is not allowed within 2 days prior to enrollment
The following are exceptions to this criterion
Intranasal, inhaled, and topical steroids
Systemic corticosteroids at physiologic doses not to exceed 10 mg/day of prednisone or equivalent
In the case of short-term use of systemic corticosteroids (less than 24 hours within 28
Steroids as premedication for hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., CT scan premedication)
days) of greater than 10 mg/day of prednisone or an equivalent corticosteroid, the required
washout period prior to starting the leukapheresis is 7 days
History of severe immediate hypersensitivity reaction to any of the agents used in
this study
Unable to understand the investigational nature of the study or give informed consent
and does not have a legally authorized representative or surrogate that can provide
informed consent
Any condition that, in the opinion of the investigator, would interfere with
evaluation of the investigational product or interpretation of subject safety or study
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