Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells with a long-lived memory phenotype are correlated with durable, complete remissions in patients with leukemia. However, not all CAR T cell products form robust memory populations, and those that do can induce chronic B cell aplasia in patients. To address these challenges, we previously developed a switchable CAR (sCAR) T cell system that allows fully tunable, on/off control over engineered cellular activity. To further evaluate the platform, we generated and assessed different murine sCAR constructs to determine the factors that afford efficacy, persistence, and expansion of sCAR T cells in a competent immune system. We find that sCAR T cells undergo significant in vivo expansion, which is correlated with potent antitumor efficacy. Most importantly, we show that the switch dosing regimen not only allows control over B cell populations through iterative depletion and repopulation, but that the "rest" period between dosing cycles is the key for induction of memory and expansion of sCAR T cells. These findings introduce rest as a paradigm in enhancing memory and improving the efficacy and persistence of engineered T cell products.
Keywords: CAR T cell; cancer; control; immunotherapy; memory.
Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.