Virus-specific T-cell banks for ‘off the shelf’ adoptive therapy of refractory infections

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Adoptive immunotherapy with transplant donor-derived virus-specific T cells has emerged as a potentially curative approach for the treatment of drug-refractory EBV+lymphomas as well as CMV and adenovirus infections complicating allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplants. Adoptive transfer of HLA partially matched virus-specific T cells from healthy third party donors has also shown promise in the treatment of these conditions, with disease response rates of 50-76% and strikingly low incidences of toxicity or GVHD recorded in initial trials. In this review, we examine the reported experience with transplant donor and third party donor-derived virus-specific T cells, identifying characteristics of the viral pathogen, the T cells administered and the diseased host that contribute to treatment response or failure. We also describe the characteristics of virus-specific T-cell lines in our center's bank and the frequency with which in vitro culture promotes expansion of immunodominant T cells specific for epitopes that are presented by a limited array of prevalent HLA alleles, which facilitates their broad applicability for treatment.

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