Adoptive T cell therapy: Boosting the immune system to fight cancer

Semin Immunol. 2020 Jun;49:101437. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2020.101437. Epub 2020 Nov 29.


Cellular therapies have shown increasing promise as a cancer treatment. Encouraging results against hematologic malignancies are paving the way to move into solid tumors. In this review, we will focus on T-cell therapies starting from tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) to optimized T-cell receptor-modified (TCR) cells and chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells (CAR-Ts). We will discuss the positive preclinical and clinical findings of these approaches, along with some of the persisting barriers that need to be overcome to improve outcomes.

Keywords: Adoptive cell therapy; CAR-T cells; Cytolytic T cells (CTLs); Hematologic malignancies; T-cell receptor-modified (TCR) cells; Tumor infiltrating T cells (TILs).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / methods
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell