What is adoptive cell transfer?

Adoptive cell transfer is the transfer of immune cells into the body after it has been augmented to be possess more effective anti-pathology features. In most cases, a patient’s own cells will be used to limit autoimmunity and rejection. Cancer immunotherapy commonly uses this form of autologous transfer with T cells. Isolated T cells can be sorted to enrich fractions which are most active and potent against cancer. They can be subjected to genetic modification to make them more resilient against tumor growth, and/or expanded in cell culture systems to boost their numbers. The latter is vital since chemotherapy or radiation treatments can eliminate the majority of the resident T cells in a patient. When a patient cannot use their own cells, a donor’s cells can be isolated and introduced into a patient. This procedure is considered allogenic, but often requires extra measures to counter the body’s immune response to these foreign immune cells.1

1. G. Xin, et al., "Pathogen boosted adoptive cell transfer immunotherapy to treat solid tumors," PNAS 114(4):740-745, 2017.