Suicide gene therapy to increase the safety of chimeric antigen receptor-redirected T lymphocytes

J Cancer. 2011;2:378-82. doi: 10.7150/jca.2.378. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are generated by fusing the antigen-binding motif of a monoclonal antibody (mAb) with the signal transduction machinery of the T-cell receptor (TCR). The genetic modification of T lymphocytes with chimeric receptors specific for tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) allows for the redirection towards tumor cells. Clinical experience with CAR-redirected T cells suggests that antitumor efficacy associates with some degree of toxicity, especially when TAA expression is shared with healthy tissues. This situation closely resembles the case of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), wherein allorecognition causes both the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Suicide gene therapy, i.e. the genetic induction of a conditional suicide phenotype into donor T cells, enables dissociating the GVL effect from GVHD. Applying suicide gene modification to CAR-redirected T cells may therefore greatly increase their safety profile and facilitate their clinical development.

Keywords: Chimeric antigen receptors; Suicide Gene Therapy.