Switchable CAR-T cells mediate remission in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Raj, D., Yang, M.H., Rodgers, D. et al.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a disease of unmet medical need. While immunotherapy with chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cells has shown much promise in haematological malignancies, their efficacy for solid tumours is challenged by the lack of tumour-specific antigens required to avoid on-target, off-tumour effects. Switchable CAR-T cells whereby activity of the CAR-T cell is controlled by dosage of a tumour antigen-specific recombinant Fab-based ‘switch’ to afford a fully tunable response may overcome this translational barrier.

In this present study, we have used conventional and switchable CAR-T cells to target the antigen HER2, which is upregulated on tumour cells, but also present at low levels on normal human tissue. We used patient-derived xenograft models derived from patients with stage IV PDAC that mimic the most aggressive features of PDAC, including severe liver and lung metastases.

Switchable CAR-T cells followed by administration of the switch directed against human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-induced complete remission in difficult-to-treat, patient-derived advanced pancreatic tumour models. Switchable HER2 CAR-T cells were as effective as conventional HER2 CAR-T cells in vivo testing a range of different CAR-T cell doses.

These results suggest that a switchable CAR-T system is efficacious against aggressive and disseminated tumours derived from patients with advanced PDAC while affording the potential safety of a control switch.


Raj, D., Yang, M.H., Rodgers, D. et al. "Switchable CAR-T cells mediate remission in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma" Gut (2018): 1052–64