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Front Immunol. 2019 Feb 5;10:128. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00128. eCollection 2019.

CAR T Cells for Solid Tumors: New Strategies for Finding, Infiltrating, and Surviving in the Tumor Microenvironment.

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Perelman School of Medicine, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States.


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, T cells that have been genetically engineered to express a receptor that recognizes a specific antigen, have given rise to breakthroughs in treating hematological malignancies. However, their success in treating solid tumors has been limited. The unique challenges posed to CAR T cell therapy by solid tumors can be described in three steps: finding, entering, and surviving in the tumor. The use of dual CAR designs that recognize multiple antigens at once and local administration of CAR T cells are both strategies that have been used to overcome the hurdle of localization to the tumor. Additionally, the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment has implications for T cell function in terms of differentiation and exhaustion, and combining CARs with checkpoint blockade or depletion of other suppressive factors in the microenvironment has shown very promising results to mitigate the phenomenon of T cell exhaustion. Finally, identifying and overcoming mechanisms associated with dysfunction in CAR T cells is of vital importance to generating CAR T cells that can proliferate and successfully eliminate tumor cells. The structure and costimulatory domains chosen for the CAR may play an important role in the overall function of CAR T cells in the TME, and "armored" CARs that secrete cytokines and third- and fourth-generation CARs with multiple costimulatory domains offer ways to enhance CAR T cell function.


T cell; adoptive T cell immunotherapy; chimeric antigen receptor; engineered T cells; solid tumors

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