CAR T Cell Therapy in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Potential for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Nathan Singh, Noelle V. Frey, Stephan A. Grupp, Shannon L. Maude

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

28 Scopus citations


Adoptive transfer of autologous T cells engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) represents a powerful targeted immunotherapy that has shown great promise in some of the most refractory leukemias. CAR-modified T cells directed against CD19 have led the way, setting a high standard with remission rates as high as 90 % in clinical trials for relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Yet, the first demonstration of efficacy was in another disease, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), in which CD19-targeted CAR T cells eradicated bulky, highly refractory disease. Despite early encouraging results, clinical trials in CLL have yielded lower response rates, revealing disease-specific differences in response in this form of immunotherapy. Ongoing research focused on identifying and overcoming these limitations, promises to improve response rates. Beyond the induction of remission, the transformative impact of engineered T cell therapy lies in its potential for long-term disease control. With longer follow-up and durable T cell persistence now reported, we are closer to answering the question of whether sustained remissions are possible with CAR T cell monotherapy. As might be expected with a highly effective therapy using a single mechanism of action, escape pathways have emerged. Combinatorial approaches are needed to anticipate and prevent this mode of relapse. Lastly, toxicity management is vital to ensure the safety of this exciting cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalCurrent treatment options in oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • CD19
  • Cellular immunotherapy
  • Chimeric antigen receptor
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Cytokine release syndrome
  • Engineered T cells

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