What is chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020
  • Author: Sameh Gaballa, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a rapidly growing treatment modality. In approved products, a patient’s own T lymphocytes are collected by apheresis and transduced with a gene that encodes for a CAR to direct the T cells against cancer cells. The  genetically modified autologous T cells are expanded in vitro at a production facility and then reinfused into the patient. [1]

Several types of adoptive cell transfer are under investigation, but CAR T-cell therapy is the first to enter clinical practice. Manufacturing CAR T cells is most commonly done using retroviral vectors. Considerable research continues to enhance current efforts as well as extend this therapy to many tumor types. CAR T therapy is currently approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Approval of CAR T therapy is expected in 2021 for multiple myeloma and follicular lymphoma.

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