Gene therapy with human and mouse T-cell receptors mediates cancer regression and targets normal tissues expressing cognate antigen

Blood. 2009 Jul 16;114(3):535-46. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-03-211714. Epub 2009 May 18.


Gene therapy of human cancer using genetically engineered lymphocytes is dependent on the identification of highly reactive T-cell receptors (TCRs) with antitumor activity. We immunized transgenic mice and also conducted high-throughput screening of human lymphocytes to generate TCRs highly reactive to melanoma/melanocyte antigens. Genes encoding these TCRs were engineered into retroviral vectors and used to transduce autologous peripheral lymphocytes administered to 36 patients with metastatic melanoma. Transduced patient lymphocytes were CD45RA(-) and CD45RO(+) after ex vivo expansion. After infusion, the persisting cells displayed a CD45RA(+) and CD45RO(-) phenotype. Gene-engineered cells persisted at high levels in the blood of all patients 1 month after treatment, responding patients with higher ex vivo antitumor reactivity than nonresponders. Objective cancer regressions were seen in 30% and 19% of patients who received the human or mouse TCR, respectively. However, patients exhibited destruction of normal melanocytes in the skin, eye, and ear, and sometimes required local steroid administration to treat uveitis and hearing loss. Thus, T cells expressing highly reactive TCRs mediate cancer regression in humans and target rare cognate-antigen-containing cells throughout the body, a finding with important implications for the gene therapy of cancer. This trial was registered at as NCI-07-C-0174 and NCI-07-C-0175.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer / adverse effects
  • Adoptive Transfer / methods
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Hearing Loss / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Transfusion / adverse effects
  • Lymphocyte Transfusion / methods
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Melanocytes / immunology
  • Melanoma / complications
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / administration & dosage*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uveitis / etiology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell