Current status of chimeric antigen receptor therapy for haematological malignancies

Br J Haematol. 2016 Jan;172(1):11-22. doi: 10.1111/bjh.13792. Epub 2015 Nov 12.


The field of adoptive cell transfer includes chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineered T cells, constructs that emerged from basic research into principles of immunology and have transformed into clinically effective therapies for haematological malignancies. T cells engineered to express these artificial receptors hold great promise, but also carry significant risk. While permanent genetic modification of mature T cells appears safe, modulating their in vivo function is difficult, partly because the robust response can trigger other arms of the immune system. Suicide systems and toxicity management with cytokine blockade or signal transduction modulators have emerged as a new frontier in this field, a far cry from early problems getting CAR T cells to work at all. Currently, clinical trials in patients with relapsed or refractory B cell malignancies treated with CD19-specific CAR T cells have induced durable remissions in adults and children. Results from these trials indicate that more work needs to be done to understand biomarkers of efficacy, the role of T cell persistence and how to integrate this care into standard practice. Cell therapy will not be a 'one size fits all' class of medicine, and here we will discuss the development of this therapy and important questions for its future.

Keywords: T cells; acute leukaemia; chimeric antigen receptor; immunotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Engineering / methods
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Lymphocyte Depletion / methods
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / transplantation


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell