Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are hybrid proteins that consist of two major components: a targeting domain and a signaling domain. The targeting domain allows T cells which express the CAR to selectively recognize and bind to diseased cells that express a particular protein. Once the diseased cell is bound by the targeting domain of the CAR, the signaling domain of the CAR activates the T cell, thereby allowing it to kill the diseased cell. This is a promising new therapeutic approach known as adoptive cell therapy (ACT).
Researchers at the NCI Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch developed a CAR that recognizes human tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 8 (TNFRSF8, also known as CD30). The expression of CD30 is deregulated in a variety of human cancers, including many lymphomas. By creating a CAR that recognizes CD30, it may be possible to treat these cancers using adoptive cell therapy.