Perspectives on chimeric antigen receptor T-cell immunotherapy for solid tumors

Paris Kosti, John Maher, James N. Arnold*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)
271 Downloads (Pure)


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy entails the genetic engineering of a patient's T-cells to express membrane spanning fusion receptors with defined specificities for tumor-associated antigens. These CARs are capable of eliciting robust T-cell activation to initiate killing of the target tumor cells. This therapeutic approach has produced unprecedented clinical outcomes in the treatment of "liquid" hematologic cancers, but to date has not produced comparable responses in targeting solid malignancies. Advances in our understanding of the immunobiology of solid tumors have highlighted several hurdles which currently hinder the efficacy of this therapy. These barriers include the insufficient accumulation of CAR T-cells in the tumor due to poor trafficking or physical exclusion and the exposure of infiltrating CAR T-cells to a panoply of immune suppressive checkpoint molecules, cytokines, and metabolic stresses that are not conducive to efficient immune reactions and can thereby render these cells anergic, exhausted, or apoptotic. This mini-review summarizes these hurdles and describes some recent approaches and innovations to genetically re-engineer CAR T-cells to counter inhibitory influences found in the tumor microenvironment. Novel immunotherapy drug combinations to potentiate the activity of CAR T-cells are also discussed. As our understanding of the immune landscape of tumors improves and our repertoire of immunotherapeutic drugs expands, it is envisaged that the efficacy of CAR T-cells against solid tumors might be potentiated using combination therapies, which it is hoped may lead to meaningful improvements in clinical outcome for patients with refractory solid malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1104
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberMAY
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2018


  • Chimeric antigen receptor
  • Immunotherapy
  • Solid tumor
  • T-cells
  • Tumor microenvironment


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