Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have had dramatic success in B-cell malignancies, but this efficacy has not yet translated to more common solid tumors. In this issue of Cancer Research, Zhong and colleagues demonstrated that tumor-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEV) contain CAR target antigens like mesothelin, enabling them to preferentially interact with and suppress the activity of CAR T cells in vivo. PD-L1 in tumor-derived sEVs increased upon CAR T-cell infusion and induced PD-L1–dependent suppression of CAR T cells that could be completely reversed by PD-L1 blockade. Strategies to inhibit sEV secretion, via genetic manipulation of tumor cells or pharmacologic inhibition, significantly improved CAR T-cell accumulation, function, and antitumor activity in vivo, suggesting that therapeutic targeting of sEV secretion could be a promising new approach to improving the efficacy of CAR T-cell therapy.

See related article by Zhong et al., p. 2790

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