Performance-enhancing drugs: design and production of redirected chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.
Performance enhancement of the immune system can now be generated through ex vivo gene modification of T cells in order to redirect native specificity to target tumor antigens. This approach combines the specificity of antibody therapy, the expanded response of cellular therapy and the memory activity of vaccine therapy. Recent clinical trials of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells directed toward CD19 as a stand-alone therapy have shown sustained complete responses in patients with acute lymphoblast
ic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. As these drug products are individually derived from a patient's own cells, a different manufacturing approach is required for this kind of personalized therapy compared with conventional drugs. Key steps in the CAR T-cell manufacturing process include the selection and activation of isolated T cells, transduction of T cells to express CARs, ex vivo expansion of modified T cells and cryopreservation in infusible media. In this review, the steps involved in isolating, genetically modifying and scaling-out the CAR T cells for use in a clinical setting are described in the context of in-process and release testing and regulatory standards.