Acute Myeloid Leukemia Targeting by Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells: Bridging the Gap from Preclinical Modeling to Human Studies

Hum Gene Ther. 2017 Mar;28(3):231-241. doi: 10.1089/hum.2016.092. Epub 2016 Dec 1.


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) still represents an unmet clinical need for adult and pediatric high-risk patients, thus demanding advanced and personalized therapies. In this regard, different targeted immunotherapeutic approaches are available, ranging from naked monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to conjugated and multifunctional mAbs (i.e., BiTEs and DARTs). Recently, researchers have focused their attention on novel techniques of genetic manipulation specifically to redirect cytotoxic T cells endowed with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) toward selected tumor associated antigens. So far, CAR T cells targeting the CD19 antigen expressed by B-cell origin hematological cancers have gained impressive clinical results, leading to the possibility of translating the CAR platform to treat other hematological malignancies such as AML. However, one of the main concerns in the field of AML CAR immunotherapy is the identification of an ideal target cell surface antigen, being highly expressed on tumor cells but minimally present on healthy tissues, together with the design of an anti-AML CAR appropriately balancing efficacy and safety profiles. The current review focuses mainly on AML target antigens and the related immunotherapeutic approaches developed so far, deeply dissecting methods of CAR T cell safety improvements, when designing novel CARs approaching human studies.

Keywords: AML; CAR-T cells; immunotherapy; preclinical models; targeted therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell