Gene-engineered T cells for cancer therapy

Nat Rev Cancer. 2013 Aug;13(8):525-41. doi: 10.1038/nrc3565.


T cells have the capacity to eradicate diseased cells, but tumours present considerable challenges that render T cells ineffectual. Cancer cells often make themselves almost 'invisible' to the immune system, and they sculpt a microenvironment that suppresses T cell activity, survival and migration. Genetic engineering of T cells can be used therapeutically to overcome these challenges. T cells can be taken from the blood of cancer patients and then modified with genes encoding receptors that recognize cancer-specific antigens. Additional genes can be used to enable resistance to immunosuppression, to extend survival and to facilitate the penetration of engineered T cells into tumours. Using genetic modification, highly active, self-propagating 'slayers' of cancer cells can be generated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm