Modulation of chimeric antigen receptor surface expression by a small molecule switch

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Background: Engineered therapeutic cells have attracted a great deal of interest due to their potential applications in treating a wide range of diseases, including cancer and autoimmunity. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are designed to detect and kill tumor cells that present a specific, predefined antigen. The rapid expansion of targeted antigen beyond CD19, has highlighted new challenges, such as autoactivation and T-cell fratricide, that could impact the capacity to manufacture engineered CAR T-cells. Therefore, the development of strategies to control CAR expression at the surface of T-cells and their functions is under intense investigations. Results: Here, we report the development and evaluation of an off-switch directly embedded within a CAR construct (SWIFF-CAR). The incorporation of a self-cleaving degradation moiety controlled by a protease/protease inhibitor pair allowed the ex vivo tight and reversible control of the CAR surface presentation and the subsequent CAR-induced signaling and cytolytic functions of the engineered T-cells using the cell permeable Asunaprevir (ASN) small molecule. Conclusions: The strategy described in this study could, in principle, be broadly adapted to CAR T-cells development to circumvent some of the possible hurdle of CAR T-cell manufacturing. This system essentially creates a CAR T-cell with an integrated functional rheostat.




Juillerat, A., Tkach, D., Busser, B. W., Temburni, S., Valton, J., Duclert, A., … Duchateau, P. (2019). Modulation of chimeric antigen receptor surface expression by a small molecule switch. BMC Biotechnology, 19(1).

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