The field of cancer immunotherapy has been re-energized by the application of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy in cancers. These CAR T cells are engineered to express synthetic receptors that redirect polyclonal T cells to surface antigens for subsequent tumor elimination. Many CARs are designed with elements that augment T cell persistence and activity. To date, CAR T cells have demonstrated tremendous success in eradicating hematologic malignancies (e.g., CD19 CARs in leukemias). However, this success has yet to be extrapolated to solid tumors, and the reasons for this are being actively investigated. We characterize some of the challenges that CAR T cells have to surmount in the solid tumor microenvironment and new approaches that are being considered to overcome these hurdles.
Keywords: adoptive T cell transfer; chimeric antigen receptor T cells; immunotherapy; tumor microenvironment.