Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have been indicated effective in treating B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and have shown encouraging results in preclinical and clinical studies. However, CAR T cells have achieved minimal success against solid malignancies because of the additional obstacles of their insufficient migration into tumors and poor amplification and persistence, in addition to antigen-negative relapse and an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Various preclinical studies are exploring strategies to overcome the above challenges. Mobilization of endogenous immune cells is also necessary for CAR T cells to obtain their optimal therapeutic effect given the importance of the innate immune responses in the elimination of malignant tumors. In this review, we focus on the recent advances in the engineering of CAR T cell therapies to restore the immune response in solid malignancies, especially with CAR T cells acting as cellular carriers to deliver immunomodulators to tumors to mobilize the endogenous immune response. We also explored the sensitizing effects of conventional treatment approaches, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, on CAR T cell therapy. Finally, we discuss the combination of CAR T cells with biomaterials or oncolytic viruses to enhance the anti-tumor outcomes of CAR T cell therapies in solid tumors.
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