Adoptive T Cell Therapies: A Comparison of T Cell Receptors and Chimeric Antigen Receptors

Daniel T. Harris, David M. Kranz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The tumor-killing properties of T cells provide tremendous opportunities to treat cancer. Adoptive T cell therapies have begun to harness this potential by endowing a functionally diverse repertoire of T cells with genetically modified, tumor-specific recognition receptors. Normally, this antigen recognition function is mediated by an αβ T cell receptor (TCR), but the dominant therapeutic forms currently in development are synthetic constructs called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). While CAR-based adoptive cell therapies are already showing great promise, their basic mechanistic properties have been studied in less detail compared with those of αβ TCRs. In this review, we compare and contrast various features of TCRs versus CARs, with a goal of highlighting issues that need to be addressed to fully exploit the therapeutic potential of both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-230
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • CAR
  • TCR
  • cell therapies
  • gene therapies
  • immunotherapy
  • receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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