Designing chimeric antigen receptors to effectively and safely target tumors.
The adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express artificial chimeric antigen receptors CARs) that target a tumor cell surface molecule has emerged as an exciting new approach for cancer immunotherapy. Clinical trials in patients with advanced B cell malignancies treated with CD19-specific CAR-modified T cells (CAR-T) have shown impressive antitumor efficacy, leading to optimism that this approach will be useful for treating common solid tumors. Because CAR-T cells recognize tumor cells independent of their expression of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules, tumors that escape conventional T cells by downregulating HLA and/or mutating components of the antigen processing machinery can be eliminated. The ability to introduce or delete additional genes in T cells has the potential to provide therapeutic cell products with novel attributes that overcome impediments to immune mediated tumor elimination in immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments. This review will discuss recent concepts in the development of effective and safe synthetic CARs for adoptive T cell therapy (ACT).