CAR T Immunotherapy
Engineering the Immune System to Fight Cancer
School of Arts and Sciences
School of Arts & Sciences
This directed case study was written to help students learn about an innovative cancer therapy that harnesses a patient's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. The critical insight underlying this therapy is to use a cancer patient's own immune cells to target and destroy cancer cells. The process involves the removal of T lymphocytes from a cancer patient's blood stream, which are then genetically engineered to express a novel cell surface protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The approach is known as "CAR T cell therapy." Written as a conversation between a cancer patient and an oncologist, the case details the immunological protein components used to construct the CAR that permit the targeting of cancer cells and the activation of T cells. The case covers the cell biology, biochemistry, and immunology underlying CAR T cell therapies, and is appropriate for an upper-level undergraduate immunology course or a clinical course covering oncology, immunology, or therapeutics.
- Describe the typical interaction between T cells and antigen-presenting cells.
- Explain the domains of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and their respective functions.
- Explain how CARs allow T cells to interact with and attack both cancer cells and normal cells.
- Apply knowledge of the immune system to current applications of cancer immunotherapies.
- Understand side effects of immunotherapy treatment and compare this treatment with typical chemotherapy.
KeywordsImmunology; cancer; T cells, immunotherapy; antigen; lymphocytes; CAR; chimeric antigen receptor;
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division, Graduate, Professional (degree program), Clinical education
Type / MethodsDirected, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Biomedical Engineering | Biotechnology | Cell Biology | Medicine (General) | Molecular Biology |
Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.
Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.