Synthetic biology in cell-based cancer immunotherapy

Trends Biotechnol. 2015 Aug;33(8):449-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2015.05.001. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


The adoptive transfer of genetically engineered T cells with cancer-targeting receptors has shown tremendous promise for eradicating tumors in clinical trials. This form of cellular immunotherapy presents a unique opportunity to incorporate advanced systems and synthetic biology approaches to create cancer therapeutics with novel functions. We first review the development of synthetic receptors, switches, and circuits to control the location, duration, and strength of T cell activity against tumors. In addition, we discuss the cellular engineering and genome editing of host cells (or the chassis) to improve the efficacy of cell-based cancer therapeutics, and to reduce the time and cost of manufacturing.

Keywords: cancer; chimeric antigen receptors; genetic circuits; immunotherapy; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Synthetic Biology*