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Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2013;2013:234-46. doi: 10.1182/asheducation-2013.1.234.

Bringing natural killer cells to the clinic: ex vivo manipulation.

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  • 11Section of Transplantation Immunotherapy, Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


Recently, there has been a substantial gain in our understanding of the role that natural killer (NK) cells play in mediating innate host immune responses against viruses and cancer. Although NK cells have long been known to be capable of killing cancer cells independently of antigen recognition, the full therapeutic potential of NK cell-based immunotherapy has yet to be realized. Here we review novel methods to activate and expand human NK cells ex vivo for adoptive transfer in humans, focusing on the important phenotypic and functional differences observed among freshly isolated, cytokine activated, and ex vivo-expanded NK populations.

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