Facts and Challenges in Immunotherapy for T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 16;21(20):7685. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207685.


T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), a T-cell malignant disease that mainly affects children, is still a medical challenge, especially for refractory patients for whom therapeutic options are scarce. Recent advances in immunotherapy for B-cell malignancies based on increasingly efficacious monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have been encouraging for non-responding or relapsing patients suffering from other aggressive cancers like T-ALL. However, secondary life-threatening T-cell immunodeficiency due to shared expression of targeted antigens by healthy and malignant T cells is a main drawback of mAb-or CAR-based immunotherapies for T-ALL and other T-cell malignancies. This review provides a comprehensive update on the different immunotherapeutic strategies that are being currently applied to T-ALL. We highlight recent progress on the identification of new potential targets showing promising preclinical results and discuss current challenges and opportunities for developing novel safe and efficacious immunotherapies for T-ALL.

Keywords: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; chimeric antigen receptor; immunotherapy; leukemia-initiating cells; monoclonal antibodies; relapse.

Publication types

  • Review