Most B-cell malignancies express CD19, and a majority of patients with B-cell malignancies are not cured by current standard therapies. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are fusion proteins consisting of antigen recognition moieties and T-cell activation domains. T cells can be genetically modified to express CARs, and adoptive transfer of anti-CD19 CAR T cells is now being tested in clinical trials. Effective clinical treatment with anti-CD19 CAR T cells was first reported in 2010 after a patient with advanced-stage lymphoma treated at the NCI experienced a partial remission of lymphoma and long-term eradication of normal B cells. Additional patients have subsequently obtained long-term remissions of advanced-stage B-cell malignancies after infusions of anti-CD19 CAR T cells. Long-term eradication of normal CD19 + B cells from patients receiving infusions of anti-CD19 CAR T cells demonstrates the potent antigen-specific activity of these T cells. Some patients treated with anti-CD19 CAR T cells have experienced acute adverse effects, which were associated with increased levels of serum inflammatory cytokines. Although anti-CD19 CAR T cells are at an early stage of development, the potent antigen-specific activity observed in patients suggests that infusions of anti-CD19 CAR T cells might become a standard therapy for some B-cell malignancies.
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