Skip to Content

How CAR Construct Transduction Impacts CAR T Therapy

Published on Mar 25, 2024 By Dominique Badea, PhD

Scientist wearing a lab coat, looking under microscope while using laptop in a laboratory

Cancer is a major challenge for the medical community, and it requires innovative and targeted treatment strategies to combat its various forms. One of the most promising strategies is CAR T cell therapy, a type of adoptive cell therapy that has demonstrated positive results, especially in treating hematologic malignancies such as leukemia.

This immunotherapy leverages the power of the donor’s immune system, specifically T lymphocytes, which are genetically modified to recognize and attack cancer cells. A critical step in developing CAR T cell therapies involves transducing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) constructs into T cells, enabling them to identify and eliminate tumor cells with high specificity.

Here, we explore the specific combination of T cell transduction and CAR constructs. We highlight how innovative products can streamline workflows, from cell separation to the final stages of CAR T cell development.

Understanding CAR Construct Transduction

In CAR T cell therapy, transduction refers to the process by which genetic material—specifically the CAR gene construct—is introduced into T cells. This gene transfer enables the T cells to express chimeric antigen receptors, which then recognize and bind to specific antigens in the cancer cells. The CAR construct is a synthetic transgene that encodes the CAR protein, combining an antibody’s specificity with T lymphocytes’ cytotoxic and proliferative capabilities.

The transduction process begins with isolating and activating T cells from the patient or donor’s peripheral blood. These cells are then exposed to the viral or non-viral vector containing the CAR gene. Viral vectors, such as lentiviruses or retroviruses, are often used due to their high efficiency in gene delivery. Non-viral methods, including transposons and mRNA electroporation, offer alternatives that mitigate some of the risks associated with viral methods, such as insertional mutagenesis.

The choice of transduction method impacts not only the efficiency and safety of CAR T cell immunotherapy but also the functional characteristics of the engineered effector cells, such as their proliferation, persistence, and antitumor activity. Therefore, selecting the most appropriate transduction technique is critical in developing effective CAR T cell therapies.

Transduction Techniques for CAR T Therapy

The advancement of CAR T cell therapies hinges on the effective transduction of transgenes into T cells. Let’s look at the main techniques used in this process, examining their mechanisms, advantages, and challenges:

  • Lentiviral vectors, including CAR-T therapy, are commonly used in gene therapy applications due to their ability to integrate genetic material into the host cell’s genome. This integration ensures the CAR gene is maintained and expressed throughout the cell’s life, including in its progeny.
    • The primary advantage of lentiviral vectors is their high transduction efficiency, even in non-dividing cells, making them highly effective for T lymphocyte modification. However, safety concerns—such as the potential for insertional mutagenesis and the complexity of viral vector production—pose significant challenges. Despite these concerns, the persistent expression of lentiviral transduction is invaluable for long-term therapeutic efficacy.
  • Retroviral vectors, similar to lentiviruses, transduce the CAR gene into the host cell genome, ensuring stable gene expression. Their CAR T cell therapy use is backed by years of research and clinical application.
    • The advantage of retroviral vectors lies in their robustness and established methodologies. However, they share similar safety concerns with lentiviral vectors, including the risk of insertional mutagenesis that may cause cancer. Additionally, retroviral vectors require cell division for effective integration, which can complicate the transduction process.
  • Transposon systems, nonviral approaches like the Sleeping Beauty system, utilize transposase enzymes to integrate the CAR gene into the T-cell genome. Transposons are DNA elements that can move from one genomic location to another. In CAR-T therapy, a transposon carrying the CAR gene is introduced into T-cells along with a transposase enzyme. The transposase mediates the integration of the CAR gene into the T-cell genome, enabling CAR expression.
    • This method reduces the risks associated with viral transduction, offering a more cost-effective solution. However, the efficiency of transposon-based systems has historically been lower than that of viral methods, although recent advancements are narrowing this gap.
  • mRNA electroporation is another non-viral technique involving CAR gene transient expression. Electroporating mRNA encoding the chimeric antigen receptor construct into T lymphocytes enables the temporary expression of CAR proteins on the cell surface.
    • The main advantages include a lowered risk of insertional mutagenesis and the ability to control the duration of gene expression, which can mitigate long-term safety concerns. However, the transient nature of mRNA expression means that the CAR T cells may lose their modified receptors over time, potentially limiting the duration of their therapeutic effect.

Advantages and Challenges in CAR T Cell Transduction

Each transduction technique offers advantages that can be leveraged depending on CAR T cell immunotherapy’s therapeutic goals and safety considerations.

  • Lentiviral and retroviral vectors: These methods ensure long-term receptor expression, which is crucial for sustained therapeutic effects. However, their use necessitates strict safety protocols to mitigate the risks of insertional mutagenesis.
  • Transposon systems: Offering a balance between efficiency and safety, transposon systems provide a viable alternative to viral methods, especially in contexts where cost or viral safety concerns are paramount.
  • mRNA electroporation: Ideal for applications requiring controlled receptor expression, mRNA electroporation minimizes long-term safety risks, making it suitable for trials exploring the optimal duration of CAR T cell activity.

Despite these advantages, challenges—including the efficiency of gene delivery, the persistence of CAR expression, and the safety of the transduction process—remain central considerations in developing CAR T cell therapies.

Akadeum’s Role in Simplifying CAR T Cell Therapy Workflow

With its groundbreaking microbubble-based cell separation technology, Akadeum Life Sciences addresses these challenges head-on. Before the transduction process begins, Akadeum’s products can significantly streamline workflows by providing a highly efficient and gentle method for separating and activating T cells.

This preparation step is critical for ensuring the purity and viability of T lymphocytes, which directly impacts the success of subsequent transduction and the overall efficacy of CAR T cell therapy.

  1. Efficiency and purity: Using buoyancy-based technology, Akadeum’s kits enable the isolation of T cells with high purity and viability. This is crucial for maximizing the efficiency of viral and non-viral transduction methods.
  2. Activation and expansion: Following isolation, T cells require activation and expansion to prepare them for effective transduction. Akadeum’s activation and expansion kits simplify this process, ensuring the effector cells are optimal for receiving CAR constructs.

By enhancing the initial stages of CAR T cell manufacturing, Akadeum’s technology simplifies workflows and contributes to the overall success and reliability of CAR T cell therapies. This integration of innovative cell separation and preparation technologies with advanced transduction methods exemplifies Akadeum’s commitment to advancing the field of adoptive cell therapy.

Who Are Akadeum’s Microbubbles for?

Akadeum’s microbubble-based cell separation, activation, and expansion kits can significantly simplify most T cell workflows, enhancing CAR T cell therapy research and manufacturing efficiency and efficacy. Clinical research teams can use Akadeum’s cell separation kits to isolate T cells with exceptional purity and viability from a patient sample.

This enhanced starting population of T cells leads to higher efficiency in the subsequent lentiviral transduction process, resulting in a greater yield of CAR T cells used for infusion. Post-infusion, patients may benefit from significantly reducing tumor burden simply by starting with high-quality T cells.

In addition, biotech companies can easily integrate Akadeum’s cell separation and activation kits into their CAR T cell production workflows, significantly reducing the time and complexity of the manufacturing process. This streamlined approach facilitates quicker turnaround times from patient cell collection to CAR T cell infusion, meaning faster treatment for patients with aggressive cancer. Simplified workflows also result in cost savings, making the therapy more accessible.

Let’s Innovate Advanced CAR T Therapy Together!

CAR T cell therapy’s journey from concept to clinical success stories underscores the importance of every step in the manufacturing process. From the initial isolation and activation of T cells to the complex decisions surrounding transduction techniques, each phase is critical to the therapy’s overall efficacy and safety. Akadeum Life Sciences is ready to join you on this journey, offering innovative separation, activation, and expansion kits that simplify and enhance your workflows for developing CAR T cell therapies.

The evolving landscape of CAR T cell therapy presents endless possibilities for innovation and improvement. Collaboration and engagement with leading-edge research groups and companies become essential as we push the boundaries of what’s possible in cancer treatment. We invite scientists, researchers, clinicians, and biotech professionals to explore how Akadeum’s microbubble technology can revolutionize their CAR T cell therapy project workflows.

Whether you are at the forefront of CAR T research or are looking to integrate the latest advancements into clinical applications, Akadeum’s team is ready to support your goals. Reach out to learn more about our products, discuss potential collaborations, or explore how we can help elevate your work in adoptive cell therapies. Together, let’s continue to transform the cancer treatment landscape, making CAR T cell therapy more accessible, efficient, and effective for patients worldwide.

Contact Akadeum Life Sciences today, and let’s make a difference in the lives of individuals fighting cancer.

Back to Top