Adoptively transferred antigen-specific T cells that recognize tumor antigens through their native receptors have many potential benefits as treatment for virus-associated diseases and malignancies, due to their ability to selectively recognize tumor antigens, expand and persist to provide long-term protection. Infusions of T cells targeting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigens have shown encouraging response rates in patients with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease as well as EBV-positive lymphomas and nasopharyngeal cancer, although a recent study also showed that human papilloma virusreactive T cells can induce complete regression of metastatic cervical cancer. This strategy is also being evaluated to target non-viral tumor-associated antigens. Targeting these less immunogenic antigens is more challenging, as tumor antigens are generally weak, and high avidity T cells specific for self-antigens are deleted in the thymus, but tumor responses have been reported. Current research focusses on defining factors that promote in vivo persistence of transferred cells and ameliorate the immunosuppressive microenvironment. To this end, investigators are evaluating the effects of combining adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells with other immunotherapy moieties such as checkpoint inhibitors. Genetic modification of infused T cells may also be used to overcome tumor evasion mechanisms, and vaccines may be used to promote in vivo proliferation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology