Enhanced T cell receptor gene therapy for cancer


  • E. Kieback
  • W. Uckert


  • Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy


  • Expert Opin Biol Ther 10 (5): 749-762


  • Importance of the field: Adoptive therapy with T cell receptor- (TCR-) redirected T cells has shown efficacy in mouse tumor models and first responses in cancer patients. One prerequisite to elicit effective anti-tumor reactivity is the transfer of high-avidity T cells. Their generation, however, faces several technical difficulties. Target antigens are often expressed at low levels and their recognition requires the use of high-affine receptors. Yet, mainly low-affine TCRs have been isolated from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Furthermore, upon transfer into a T cell the introduced receptor has to compete with the endogenous TCR. Areas covered in this review: This review discusses how the functional avidity of TCR-modified T cells can be enhanced by i) increasing the amount of introduced TCR heterodimers on the cell surface; and ii) generating receptors with high affinity. Risks of TCR gene therapy and possible safety mechanisms are discussed. What the reader will gain: The reader will gain an overview of the technical developments in TCR and T cell engineering. Take home message: Despite technical obstacles many advances have been made in the generation of high-avidity T cells expressing enhanced TCRs. Mouse studies and clinical trials will evaluate the effect of these improvements.