Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 953–962 | Cite as

Targeted immunotherapy of cancer with CAR T cells: achievements and challenges

  • Grazyna Lipowska-Bhalla
  • David E. GilhamEmail author
  • Robert E. Hawkins
  • Dominic G. Rothwell


The adoptive transfer of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T cells is a relatively new but promising approach in the field of cancer immunotherapy. This therapeutic strategy is based on the genetic reprogramming of T cells with an artificial immune receptor that redirects them against targets on malignant cells and enables their destruction by exerting T cell effector functions. There has been an explosion of interest in the use of CAR T cells as an immunotherapy for cancer. In the pre-clinical setting, there has been a considerable focus upon optimizing the structural and signaling potency of the CAR while advances in bio-processing technology now mean that the clinical testing of these gene-modified T cells has become a reality. This review will summarize the concept of CAR-based immunotherapy and recent clinical trial activity and will further discuss some of the likely future challenges facing CAR-modified T cell therapies.


T cell Gene modification Chimeric antigen receptor Cancer Immunotherapy 



DEG, REH, and DGR were funded by Cancer Research UK. This work was also supported by the EU FP6 programme ATTACK, FP7 training Network ATTRACT and the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund. The authors also wish to acknowledge Professor Hinrich Abken (University of Cologne) for his critical assessment of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grazyna Lipowska-Bhalla
    • 1
    • 2
  • David E. Gilham
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Robert E. Hawkins
    • 1
  • Dominic G. Rothwell
    • 2
  1. 1.Clinical and Experimental Immunotherapy Group, School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science CentreUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Clinical and Molecular Monitoring Laboratory, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, School of Cancer and Enabling SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  3. 3.Clinical and Experimental Immunotherapy GroupPaterson Institute for Cancer ResearchWithington, ManchesterUK

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