Multi-virus specific T-cells

Haema 2016; 7(1): 37-44

by Anastasia Karela, Alexandros Spyridonidis

Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, University General Hospital of Patras, Rio, Greece

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The notion that immunocompetent cells are capable of mediating an antitumor effect was first validated experimentally in late 1950s. These findings led to the therapeutic infusion of antitumor specific T-lymphocytes to treat hematologic malignancies, for example donor lymphocyte infusions for relapse after allogeneic stem cells transplant (HSCT). Besides relapse, viral infections consist a major and potential fatal complication after HSCT. Antiviral chemotherapy is not universally effective, is expensive and carries its own complications, like organ toxicity and generation of resistant virus strains. The use of multi-virus specific T-cells for the treatment of viral infections is an emerging field of research. Early clinical trials have helped to understand the hallmarks of T-cell therapies and provided critical insights to the manufacturing of a therapeutically robust product. Recently, very encouraging results in treating severe post-transplantation viral infections have been reported with virus-specific T cells, from third-party or the stem cell donors, targeting 3 to 5 viruses. Although many hurdles remain unresolved, the use of multi-virus specific T-cells has now reached a stage of increasing feasibility and efficacy.