State of the Art in CAR-T Cell Therapy for Solid Tumors: Is There a Sweeter Future?

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Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy has proven to be a powerful treatment for hematological malignancies. The situation is very different in the case of solid tumors, for which no CAR-T-based therapy has yet been approved. There are many factors contributing to the absence of response in solid tumors to CAR-T cells, such as the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME), T cell exhaustion, or the lack of suitable antigen targets, which should have a stable and specific expression on tumor cells. Strategies being developed to improve CAR-T-based therapy for solid tumors include the use of new-generation CARs such as TRUCKs or bi-specific CARs, the combination of CAR therapy with chemo- or radiotherapy, the use of checkpoint inhibitors, and the use of oncolytic viruses. Furthermore, despite the scarcity of targets, a growing number of phase I/II clinical trials are exploring new solid-tumor-associated antigens. Most of these antigens are of a protein nature; however, there is a clear potential in identifying carbohydrate-type antigens associated with tumors, or carbohydrate and proteoglycan antigens that emerge because of aberrant glycosylations occurring in the context of tumor transformation.

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