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Cell. 2017 Feb 9;168(4):724-740. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.01.016.

The Principles of Engineering Immune Cells to Treat Cancer.

Author information

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, UCSF Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA. Electronic address:
Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address:


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have proven that engineered immune cells can serve as a powerful new class of cancer therapeutics. Clinical experience has helped to define the major challenges that must be met to make engineered T cells a reliable, safe, and effective platform that can be deployed against a broad range of tumors. The emergence of synthetic biology approaches for cellular engineering is providing us with a broadly expanded set of tools for programming immune cells. We discuss how these tools could be used to design the next generation of smart T cell precision therapeutics.

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