Research ArticleCancer

Reporter gene imaging of targeted T cell immunotherapy in recurrent glioma

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  18 Jan 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 373, eaag2196
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag2196

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

T cells reporting for duty

Cytotoxic T cells engineered to kill tumor cells are becoming a mainstay of cancer immunotherapy. However, no matter how precisely they are engineered, once they are injected into a patient, they are no longer directly monitored or controlled by the researchers. As a result, if the treatment fails to work or causes toxicity, it is not clear whether the therapeutic cells are ineffective or whether they scattered through normal tissues and never reached the tumor. Keu et al. have designed a method to engineer these T cells with a reporter gene such that they can be tracked in people by positron emission tomography. The authors present a clinical trial demonstrating the feasibility and safety of this approach in glioma patients.


High-grade gliomas are aggressive cancers that often become rapidly fatal. Immunotherapy using CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), engineered to express both herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-TK) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) zetakine chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), is a treatment strategy with considerable potential. To optimize this and related immunotherapies, it would be helpful to monitor CTL viability and trafficking to glioma cells. We show that noninvasive positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with 9-[4-[18F]fluoro-3-(hydroxymethyl)butyl]guanine ([18F]FHBG) can track HSV1-tk reporter gene expression present in CAR-engineered CTLs. [18F]FHBG imaging was safe and enabled the longitudinal imaging of T cells stably transfected with a PET reporter gene in patients. Further optimization of this imaging approach for monitoring in vivo cell trafficking should greatly benefit various cell-based therapies for cancer.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine