Chimeric antigen receptors in cancer immuno-gene therapy: current status and future directions

Int Rev Immunol. Oct-Dec 2011;30(5-6):294-311. doi: 10.3109/08830185.2011.595855.


The concept of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) as molecules able to redirect T lymphocytes toward tumor cells is currently being exploited in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Despite promising preliminary results, some clinical trials evidenced limitations for this technology that must be overcome for more extensive application of CARs in tumor immunotherapy. We describe here the fundaments of these molecules in terms of structure, function, possible targets and pre-clinical and clinical applications. We also discuss strategies that can potentially overcome the limitations seen so far, paving the road to a wider application of this exciting new technology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / therapeutic use
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


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