Vol 51, No 1 (2020)
Published online: 2020-03-01

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A brief history of CAR-T cells: from laboratory to the bedside

Jan Styczyński1
DOI: 10.2478/ahp-2020-0002
Acta Haematol Pol 2020;51(1):2-5.


Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are genetically engineered receptors that provide specific properties to an immune effector cell and these receptors gain the specificity of a monoclonal antibody targeted against specific tumor cells. T cells with engineered CARs acquire potent immunological properties and redirect the immune system in order to eliminate malignant cells. First-engineered T cells with chimeric molecule (CAR-T cells) were developed in 1989–1993 by Israeli immunologists Zelig Eshhar and Gideon Gross. The first clinical application of CAR-T cells was done in the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia by the immunologist Carl June and hematologist David Porter to patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2011 and together with the pediatrician Stephan Grupp to patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2012. The US Food and Drug Administration Agency (FDA) in 2017 and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2018 have licensed two products of CAR-T cells: tisagenlecleucel for the use in children and young adults up to 25 years of age with B-cell ALL who do not respond to treatment or have relapsed two or more times and tisagenlecleucel and axicabtagene ciloleucel for the use in adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Current progress in CAR technology includes the use in other hematological malignancies, solid tumors, the use of dual CAR-T cells and chimeric antigen receptor natural killer cells (CAR-NK cells).

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