Editors' ChoiceCancer Immunotherapy

Keeping a leash on cancer-killing cells

Sci. Signal.  20 Oct 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 399, pp. ec300
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad6479

Redirecting the immune system to attack tumor cells is proving to be an effective therapy against cancer. However, when patients are exposed to T cells engineered to recognize and attack cancer cells, there is a risk of runaway or excessive activity or of off-target effects, both of which can themselves be deadly. Wu et al. designed T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors that recognize and attack cancer cells with an additional control system. This mechanism would allow a doctor administering the therapy to turn the engineered T cell “on” or “off” by administering a small molecule that is required—along with cancer cell antigen—to stimulate the T cells and activate their tumor cell–killing properties.

C.-Y. Wu, K. T. Roybal, E. M. Puchner, J. Onuffer, W. A. Lim, Remote control of therapeutic T cells through a small molecule–gated chimeric receptor. Science 350, aab4077 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]