Four Steps to Activate T Cells

Retain in vivo–like function, without feeder cells

Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) is a rapidly emerging immunotherapy approach in which a patient’s own genetically engineered immune cells are used to attack and treat their cancers. The most promising type of ACT comes from chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), where a patient’s T cells are harvested and scientists add a receptor that binds to a protein on the cancerous cells. This technique is possible thanks to extensive research performed on activation and expansion of T cells. Here are four easy steps to activate T cells without using feeder cells, but with results similar to in vivo–activated cells.

Four Steps to Activate T Cells


Count T cells to control the ratio of beads to cells.

Pro tipCounting cells is an important step to maintain reproducibility.


Isolate T cells from mononuclear cells or whole blood cells using a negative isolation method like the Invitrogen Dynabeads Untouched Human T Cells Kit.

Pro tipYour cells are not exposed to the stress of being passed through a column when you use a negative isolation method.


Transfer cells to desired cell culture medium. Add CD3/CD28 beads and mix gently.

Pro tipNo need for antigen-presenting cells (APCs), mitogens, antigens or feeder cells. This technology outperforms traditional home-brew methods for generic activation (mitogens, ConA, soluble antibodies, etc.) and is well documented in the published literature.


Transfer to cell culture plate and incubate at 37°C in a cell culture incubator.

Pro tipSit back and relax as your T cells get activated.

CRISPR is an important tool for T cell modifications

CRISPR researcher

Several T cell–related therapies are already in the clinic, including checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T cells. Since it allows scientists to precisely edit the genome, CRISPR is a valuable tool for T cell research. With CRISPR technology, T cells can be altered to improve their ability to destroy cancer cells. For best results, start with pure populations of T cells. Invitrogen Dynabeads bead-based kits highly enrich T cell populations without adding contaminants.

Learn more about Dynabeads magnetic separation technology


For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.