Research Alert

Natural killer cells are an important part of the innate immune system mediating robust responses to virus-infected and malignant cells without needing prior antigen priming. NK cells have always been thought to be short-lived and with no antigen specificity; however, recent data support the presence of NK cell memory including in the hapten-specific contact hypersensitivity model and in certain viral infections. The memory-like features can also be generated by short-term activation of both murine and human NK cells with cytokine combination of IL-12, IL-15 and IL-18, imparting increased longevity and enhanced anticancer functionality. Preclinical studies and very early clinical trials demonstrate safety and very promising clinical activity of these cytokine-induced memory-like (CIML) NK cells, making them an attractive cell type for developing novel adoptive cellular immunotherapy strategies. Furthermore, efforts are on to arm them with novel gene constructs for enhanced tumor targeting and function.

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