Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) for cancer represents a promising new treatment modality. ACT based on the administration of cytotoxic T cells genetically engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) recognizing CD19 expressed by B cell malignancies has been shown to induce complete lasting responses in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). So far, eleven clinical trials including 99 CLL and ALL patients treated with CAR T cells targeting CD19 have been published, and the results from these trials are promising with impressive clinical responses in heavily pretreated patients. Thus, CAR T cell therapy has induced complete responses in both CLL and ALL, and surprisingly, current results indicate that patients with ALL are more prone to respond than are CLL patients. Importantly, the majority of CAR cell studies have observed severe therapy-associated toxicities, which needs attention. Herein we review current data and discuss key aspects of this powerful approach to treat and potentially cure B cell malignancies.
© 2015 The Foundation for the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology.