CAR-T Cells: A Systematic Review and Mixed Methods Analysis of the Clinical Trial Landscape

Mol Ther. 2018 Feb 7;26(2):342-353. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.10.019. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


CAR-T cells are a promising new therapy that offer significant advantages compared with conventional immunotherapies. This systematic review and clinical trial landscape identifies and critiques published CAR-T cell clinical trials and examines the critical factors required to enable CAR-T cells to become a standard therapy. A review of the literature was conducted to identify suitable studies from the MEDLINE and Ovid bibliographic databases. The literature and database searches identified 20 studies for inclusion. The average number of participants per clinical trial examined was 11 patients. All studies included in this systematic review investigated CAR-T cells and were prospective, uncontrolled clinical studies. Leukemia is the most common cancer subtype and accounts for 57.4% (n = 120) of disease indications. The majority of studies used an autologous cell source (85%, n = 17) rather than an allogeneic cell source. Translational challenges encompass technical considerations relating to CAR-T cell development, manufacturing practicability, clinical trial approaches, CAR-T cell quality and persistence, and patient management.

Keywords: CAR-T cells; cell therapy; translational medicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / methods
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / genetics
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen