21 July 2018
Biomarkers are an integral part of cancer management due to their use in risk assessment, screening, differential diagnosis, prognosis, prediction of response to treatment, and monitoring progress of disease. Recently, with the advent of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, a new category of targetable biomarkers has emerged. These biomarkers are associated with the surface of malignant cells and serve as targets for directing cytotoxic T cells. The first biomarker target used for CAR T cell therapy was CD19, a B cell marker expressed highly on malignant B cells. With the success of CD19, the last decade has shown an explosion of new targetable biomarkers on a range of human malignancies. These surface targets have made it possible to provide directed, specific therapy that reduces healthy tissue destruction and preserves the patient’s immune system during treatment. As of May 2018, there are over 100 clinical trials underway that target over 25 different surface biomarkers in almost every human tissue. This expansion has led to not only promising results in terms of patient outcome, but has also led to an exponential growth in the investigation of new biomarkers that could potentially be utilized in CAR T cell therapy for treating patients. In this review, we discuss the biomarkers currently under investigation and point out several promising biomarkers in the preclinical stage of development that may be useful as targets.