Bioengineering Solutions for Manufacturing Challenges in CAR T Cells

Biotechnol J. 2018 Feb;13(2):10.1002/biot.201700095. doi: 10.1002/biot.201700095. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


The next generation of therapeutic products to be approved for the clinic is anticipated to be cell therapies, termed "living drugs" for their capacity to dynamically and temporally respond to changes during their production ex vivo and after their administration in vivo. Genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have rapidly developed into powerful tools to harness the power of immune system manipulation against cancer. Regulatory agencies are beginning to approve CAR T cell therapies due to their striking efficacy in treating some hematological malignancies. However, the engineering and manufacturing of such cells remains a challenge for widespread adoption of this technology. Bioengineering approaches including biomaterials, synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, process control and automation, and in vitro disease modeling could offer promising methods to overcome some of these challenges. Here, we describe the manufacturing process of CAR T cells, highlighting potential roles for bioengineers to partner with biologists and clinicians to advance the manufacture of these complex cellular products under rigorous regulatory and quality control.

Keywords: CAR T cells; bioengineering; biomaterials; bioprocess engineering; cancer; cellular engineering; cellular therapy; genetic engineering; medical biotechnology; metabolic engineering.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioengineering*
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Quality Control
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell