On July 1, 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration granted ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation to CTL019, the anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy developed at the University of Pennsylvania. This is the first personalized cellular therapy for cancer to be so designated and occurred 25 years after the first publication describing genetic redirection of T cells to a surface antigen of choice. The peer-reviewed literature currently contains the outcomes of more than 100 patients treated on clinical trials of anti-CD19 redirected T cells, and preliminary results on many more patients have been presented. At last count almost 30 clinical trials targeting CD19 were actively recruiting patients in North America, Europe, and Asia. Patients with high-risk B-cell malignancies therefore represent the first beneficiaries of an exciting and potent new treatment modality that harnesses the power of the immune system as never before. A handful of trials are targeting non-CD19 hematological and solid malignancies and represent the vanguard of enormous preclinical efforts to develop CAR T-cell therapy beyond B-cell malignancies. In this review, we explain the concept of chimeric antigen receptor gene-modified T cells, describe the extant results in hematologic malignancies, and share our outlook on where this modality is likely to head in the near future.
Refer to Immunol Rev. 2015 Jan;263(1):68-89. doi: 10.1111/imr.12243.