Research Article

CRISPR-engineered T cells in patients with refractory cancer

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Science  06 Feb 2020:
eaba7365
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba7365

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing provides a powerful tool to enhance the natural ability of human T cells to fight cancer. We report a first-in-human phase I clinical trial to test the safety and feasibility of multiplex CRISPR-Cas9 editing to engineer T cells in three patients with refractory cancer. Two genes encoding the endogenous T cell receptor (TCR) chains, TCRα (TRAC) and TCRβ (TRBC) were deleted in T cells to reduce TCR mispairing and to enhance the expression of a synthetic, cancer-specific TCR transgene (NY-ESO-1). Removal of a third gene encoding PD-1 (PDCD1), was performed to improve anti-tumor immunity. Adoptive transfer of engineered T cells into patients resulted in durable engraftment with edits at all three genomic loci. Though chromosomal translocations were detected, the frequency decreased over time. Modified T cells persisted for up to 9 months suggesting that immunogenicity is minimal under these conditions and demonstrating the feasibility of CRISPR gene-editing for cancer immunotherapy.

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