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Immunotherapy. 2009 Sep;1(5):753-64. doi: 10.2217/imt.09.47.

Safety analysis of ex vivo-expanded NK and NK-like T cells administered to cancer patients: a phase I clinical study.

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Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge F79, SE-14186 Stockholm, Sweden.


The chimeric state after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation provides a platform for adoptive immunotherapy using donor-derived immune cells. The major risk with donor lymphocyte infusions (DLIs) is the development of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Development of new DLI products with antitumor reactivity and reduced GvHD risk represents a challenging task in cancer immunotherapy. Although natural killer (NK) and NK-like T cells are promising owing to their antitumor activity, their low concentrations in peripheral blood mononuclear cells reduces their utility in DLIs. We have recently developed a system that allows expansion of clinical-grade NK and NK-like T cells in large numbers. In this study, the safety of donor-derived long-term ex vivo-expanded human NK and NK-like T cells given as DLIs was investigated as immunotherapy for cancer in five patients following allogeneic stem cell infusion. Infusion of the cells was safe whether administered alone or with IL-2 subcutaneously. No signs of acute GvHD were observed. One patient with hepatocellular carcinoma showed markedly decreased serum alpha-fetoprotein levels following cell infusions. These findings suggest that the use of ex vivo-expanded NK and NK-like T cells is safe and appears an attractive approach for further clinical evaluation in cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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