CAR T cells currently in clinical use are designed to recognize cancer cells directly and have successfully treated several blood cancers. But there have been challenges that prevent their effective use in many solid tumors. Most solid tumors are heavily infiltrated by a type of immune cell called macrophages. Macrophages help tumors grow by blocking the entry of T cells into the tumor tissue, which prevents CAR T cells and the patient’s own T cells from destroying the cancer cells. To address this immune suppression at the source, the researchers engineered T cells to make a chimeric antigen receptor that recognizes a molecule on the surface of macrophages. When these CAR T cells encountered a tumor macrophage, the CAR T cell became activated and killed the tumor macrophage. Treating mice with ovarian, lung and pancreatic tumors with these macrophage-targeting CAR T cells reduced the number of tumor macrophages, shrank the tumors and prolonged their survival. The destruction of tumor macrophages allowed the mice’s own T cells to access and kill the cancer cells. The researchers further demonstrated that this anti-tumor immunity was induced by the release of the cytokine interferon-gamma by CAR T cells.