Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapy—genetically engineering a patient’s immune system cells to attack tumors—could be the newest star in cancer immunotherapy.

With the FDA approval of Keytruda and Opdivo, checkpoint inhibitors remain center stage at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy. In addition, other targeted and personalized treatment modalities will likely emerge. One such strategy relates to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapy in various blood cancers. This therapy involves collecting specific immune T-cells from patients and then genetically engineering these cells to recognize a particular protein (antigen) on lab-adapted tumors. The T-cells are then re-infused into the patient with the ability to recognize and kill cancer cells that harbor the antigen on their surface. In parallel, biomarker research may help overcome resistance in patients who do not respond to therapy. Novel high throughput technologies will be used to identify patients who will most likely respond to cancer immunotherapy and help identify appropriate clinical combination immunotherapy treatments.

—Joe Murphy, Director of Science, R&D Oncology