Treating osteosarcoma with CAR T cells

Scand J Immunol. 2019 Mar;89(3):e12741. doi: 10.1111/sji.12741. Epub 2019 Jan 15.


Novel therapies to treat patients with solid cancers that have developed resistance to chemotherapy represent unmet needs of considerable dimensions. In the present review, we will address the attempts to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeted immunotherapy against osteosarcoma (OS). This aggressive cancer displays its peak incidence in children and young adults. The main cause of patient death is lung metastases with a 5-year survival as low as 5%-10% in the primary metastatic setting and 30% in the relapse situation, respectively. Effective adjuvant combination chemotherapy introduced more than 40 years ago improved the survival rates from below 20% to around 60% in patients; however, since then, no major breakthroughs have been made. The use of immune checkpoint inhibitors has been disappointing in OS, while other types of immunotherapies such as CAR T cells remain largely unexplored. Indeed, for CAR T-cell therapy to be efficacious, two main criteria need to be fulfilled: (a) CAR T cells should target an epitope selectively expressed on the cell surface of OS in order to prevent toxicities in normal tissues and (b) the target should also be widely expressed on OS metastases. These challenges have already been undertaken in OS and illustrate the difficulties in developing tomorrow's CAR-T treatment in a solid tumour. We will discuss the experiences with CAR-T therapy development and efficacy to combat the clinical challenges in OS.

Keywords: T cells; antibodies; cell therapy; cytotoxicity; solid tumours.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / immunology
  • Bone Neoplasms / mortality
  • Bone Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Endopeptidases
  • Gangliosides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gelatinases / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Osteosarcoma / immunology
  • Osteosarcoma / mortality
  • Osteosarcoma / therapy*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / physiology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-11 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Serine Endopeptidases / physiology
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Gangliosides
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-11
  • ganglioside, GD2
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Endopeptidases
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • fibroblast activation protein alpha
  • Gelatinases