Treatment with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) has shown remarkable clinical responses in patients with advanced solid tumors. Although the TIL production process is very robust, the original protocol stems from the early nineties and lacks effective selection for tumor-reactivity and functional activity. In this review we highlight the limitations of the current production process and give an overview of improvements that can be made to increase TIL efficacy.
With the recent advances in single cell sequencing technologies, our understanding of the composition and phenotype of TILs in the tumor micro environment has majorly increased, which forms the basis for the development of new strategies to improve the TIL production process. Strategies involve selection for neoantigen-reactive TILs by cell sorting or selective expansion strategies. Furthermore, gene editing strategies like Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-Cas (CRISPR-Cas9) can be used to increase TIL functionality.
Although combining all the possible improvements into a next generation TIL product might be challenging, it is highly likely that those techniques will increase the clinical value of TIL therapy in the coming years.