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Bioconjug Chem. 2019 Mar 20;30(3):552-560. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.9b00048. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Designing Magnetically Responsive Biohybrids Composed of Cord Blood-Derived Natural Killer Cells and Iron Oxide Nanoparticles.

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George Washington Cancer Center , George Washington University , Washington , DC 20052 , United States.
Department of Bioengineering , George Mason University , Fairfax , Virginia 22030 , United States.
Center for Cancer and Immunology Research , Children's National Health System , Washington , DC 20010 , United States.


We report the generation of magnetically responsive, cord blood-derived natural killer (NK) cells using iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs). NK cells are a promising immune cell population for cancer cell therapy as they can target and lyse target tumor cells without prior education. However, NK cells cannot home to disease sites based on antigen recognition, instead relying primarily on external stimuli and chemotactic gradients for transport. Hence, we hypothesized that conjugating IONPs onto the surface of NK cells provides an added feature of magnetic homing to the NK cells, improving their therapeutic function. We describe a robust design for conjugating the IONPs onto the surface of NK cells, which maintains their intrinsic phenotype and function. The conferred magnetic-responsiveness is utilized to improve the cytolytic function of the NK cells for target cells in 2D and 3D models. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of improving NK cell homing and therapeutic efficacy with our NK:IONP "biohybrid".

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