Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-directed adoptive immunotherapy: a new era in targeted cancer therapy
As a result of the recent advances in molecular immunology, virology, genetics, and cell processing, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-directed cancer therapy has finally arrived for clinical application. CAR-directed adoptive immunotherapy represents a novel form of gene therapy, cellular therapy, and immunotherapy, a combination of three in one. Early phase clinical trial was reported in patients with refractory chronic lymphoid leukemia with 17p deletion. Accompanying the cytokine storm and tumor lysis syndrome was the shocking disappearance of the leukemia cells refractory to chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies. CAR therapy was reproduced in both children and adults with refractory acute lymphoid leukemia. The CAR technology is being explored for solid tumor therapy, such as glioma. Close to 30 clinical trials are underway in the related fields (www.clinicaltrials.gov). Further improvement in gene targeting, cell expansion, delivery constructs (such as using Sleeping Beauty or Piggyback transposons) will undoubtedly enhance clinical utility. It is foreseeable that CAR-engineered T cell therapy will bring targeted cancer therapy into a new era.