Chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells: CD19 and the road beyond

Alexander I. Salter, Margot J. Pont and Stanley R. Riddell


The ability to harness a patient's immune system to target malignant cells is now transforming the treatment of many cancers, including hematologic malignancies. The adoptive transfer of T cells selected for tumor reactivity, or engineered with natural or synthetic receptors has emerged as an effective modality, even for patients with tumors that are refractory to conventional therapies. The most notable example of adoptive cell therapy is with T cells engineered to express synthetic chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that reprogram their specificity to target CD19. CAR T cells have shown remarkable antitumor activity in patients with refractory B cell malignancies. Ongoing research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of incomplete tumor elimination, reducing toxicities, preventing antigen escape, and identifying suitable targets and strategies based on established and emerging principles of synthetic biology for extending this approach to other hematologic malignancies. This review will discuss the current status, challenges, and potential future applications of CAR T cell therapy in hematologic malignancies.

  • Submitted January 8, 2018.
  • Accepted February 20, 2018.