Immunotherapy, a relatively new approach to fighting cancer, manipulates and strengthens the patient’s own immune system to eliminate tumors. One type of immunotherapy that is emerging rapidly is chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T cell) therapy.
In CAR T cell therapy, immune cells called T cells are taken from a person and genetically modified in the laboratory so that they can recognize and kill cancer cells more effectively. The engineered cells are then multiplied and put back into the person.
The genetically modified part of the T cell is the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). It contains various synthetic elements, including one that can recognize unique features of tumor cells known as tumor-associated antigens, and another that activates the T cell to kill the target.
As new generations of CAR T cell therapy have been developed, the CAR has become increasingly sophisticated and acquired more features, including some that boost the anti-tumor power and persistence of the modified T cells.
“CAR T cell therapy is becoming a paradigm-shifting therapeutic approach for cancer treatment.”