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Cytotherapy. 2013 Oct;15(10):1185-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2013.03.011. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Cellular therapy of cancer with natural killer cells-where do we stand?

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Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Although T-lymphocytes have received most of the attention in immunotherapy trials, new discoveries around natural killer (NK) cells suggest that they also should be suitable effector cells for cellular therapy of cancer. In addition to direct cytotoxicity, NK cells produce an array of immune-active cytokines, among them interferons and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, which places them at the crossroads of innate and adaptive immunity. They also augment monoclonal antibody activity through antibody-mediated cellular cytotoxicity and can be transfected with chimeric antigen receptors. One of the stumbling blocks for NK cell-based therapies has been the inability to predictably obtain and expand larger numbers from donors, but also to achieve sufficiently high transfection efficiency of target genes. The first clinical trials with NK cells suggest some benefit, but more definite evidence is needed to justify this relatively expensive treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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