Migratory Engineering of T Cells for Cancer Therapy
Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy in particular represents an adaptive, yet versatile strategy for cancer treatment. Convincing results in the treatment of hematological malignancies have led to FDA approval for several CAR T cell therapies in defined refractory diseases. In contrast, the treatment of solid tumors with adoptively transferred T cells has not demonstrated convincing efficacy in clinical trials. One of the main reasons for ACT failure in solid tumors is poor trafficking or access of transferred T cells to the tumor site. Tumors employ a variety of mechanisms shielding themselves from immune cell infiltrates, often translating to only fractions of transferred T cells reaching the tumor site. To overcome this bottleneck, extensive efforts are being undertaken at engineering T cells to improve ACT access to solid tumors. In this review, we provide an overview of the immune cell infiltrate in human tumors and the mechanisms tumors employ toward immune exclusion. We will discuss ways in which T cells can be engineered to circumvent these barriers. We give an outlook on ongoing clinical trials targeting immune cell migration to improve ACT and its perspective in solid tumors.