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The potent anti-tumor activities of γδ T cells, their ability to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, and their strong cytolytic activity have prompted the development of protocols in which γδ agonists or ex vivo-expanded γδ cells are administered to tumor patients. γδ T cells can be selectively activated by either synthetic phosphoantigens or by drugs that enhance their accumulation into stressed cells as aminobisphosphonates, thus offering new avenues for the development of γδ T cell-based immunotherapies. The recent development of small drugs selectively activating Vγ9Vδ2 T lymphocytes, which upregulate the endogenous phosphoantigens, has enabled the investigators to design the experimental approaches of cancer immunotherapies; several ongoing phase I and II clinical trials are focused on the role of the direct bioactivity of drugs and of adoptive cell therapies involving phosphoantigen- or aminobisphosphonate-activated Vγ9Vδ2 T lymphocytes in humans. In this review, we focus on the recent advances in the activation/expansion of γδ T cells in vitro and in vivo that may represent a promising target for the design of novel and highly innovative immunotherapy in patients with hematologic malignancies.
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