Gene Augmentation and Editing to Improve TCR Engineered T Cell Therapy against Solid Tumors

Vania Lo Presti, Frank Buitenwerf, Niek P van Til, Stefan Nierkens

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Recent developments in gene engineering technologies have drastically improved the therapeutic treatment options for cancer patients. The use of effective chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cells and recombinant T cell receptor engineered T (rTCR-T) cells has entered the clinic for treatment of hematological malignancies with promising results. However, further fine-tuning, to improve functionality and safety, is necessary to apply these strategies for the treatment of solid tumors. The immunosuppressive microenvironment, the surrounding stroma, and the tumor heterogeneity often results in poor T cell reactivity, functionality, and a diminished infiltration rates, hampering the efficacy of the treatment. The focus of this review is on recent advances in rTCR-T cell therapy, to improve both functionality and safety, for potential treatment of solid tumors and provides an overview of ongoing clinical trials. Besides selection of the appropriate tumor associated antigen, efficient delivery of an optimized recombinant TCR transgene into the T cells, in combination with gene editing techniques eliminating the endogenous TCR expression and disrupting specific inhibitory pathways could improve adoptively transferred T cells. Armoring the rTCR-T cells with specific cytokines and/or chemokines and their receptors, or targeting the tumor stroma, can increase the infiltration rate of the immune cells within the solid tumors. On the other hand, clinical "off-tumor/on-target" toxicities are still a major potential risk and can lead to severe adverse events. Incorporation of safety switches in rTCR-T cells can guarantee additional safety. Recent clinical trials provide encouraging data and emphasize the relevance of gene therapy and gene editing tools for potential treatment of solid tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number733
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2020


  • Adoptive T cell therapy
  • Gene editing
  • Solid tumors
  • T cell receptor engineering


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