Treating cancer with genetically engineered T cells

Trends Biotechnol. 2011 Nov;29(11):550-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2011.04.009. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Administration of ex vivo cultured, naturally occurring tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) has been shown to mediate durable regression of melanoma tumors. However, the generation of TILs is not possible in all patients and there has been limited success in generating TIL in other cancers. Advances in genetic engineering have overcome these limitations by introducing tumor-antigen-targeting receptors into human T lymphocytes. Physicians can now genetically engineer lymphocytes to express highly active T-cell receptors (TCRs) or chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeting a variety of tumor antigens expressed in cancer patients. In this review, we discuss the development of TCR and CAR gene transfer technology and the expansion of these therapies into different cancers with the recent demonstration of the clinical efficacy of these treatments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins