Through expanding the targeting capabilities of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and synthetic Notch (synNotch) receptors, University of Pittsburgh researchers have developed a “universal” receptor system that allows T cells to recognize any cell surface target. Given the potential previously seen in engineered antigen receptors, and CARs being the most clinically advanced of these technologies, the team of researchers began investigating a method to gain additional control over CAR function. By engineering T cells with receptors bearing a universal “SNAPtag”, CARs bind to the common tag molecule fused to the antigen-specific antibody, instead of directly binding antigen targets. This new approach allows for great expansion to antigen targeting and shows great promise in using CARs against additional immune-related diseases and other types of cancer.

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