Concetta Quintarelli

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Cellular Adoptive Immunotherapy: The era of Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are T-cells genetically engineered to express a tumor-targeting receptor. The receptor is a chimera of CD3zeta TCR signaling domain and an antigen-recognizing domain, derived from the single chain fragment (scFv) of an antibody. Hence, independently of the native TCR, CAR T-cells can recognize tumor cells via the CAR receptor in a MHC independent manner. The CAR molecule will recognize any target on the tumor cell surface and it is not limited to be a protein since antibodies can bind also carbohydrates and lipids. As for all targeted cancer therapeutics, the target needs to be specific for the cancer cells to avoid damage of healthy tissues. Recent studies of CD19-directed CAR-expressing T cells have shown dramatic results in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia as well as activity in B-cell lymphoma. These highly publicized studies have led to the hope that CAR T cells can be used to treat other hematological malignancies and solid tumors as well.