Advances in NK cell therapy for brain tumors

Jawad Fares, Zachary B. Davis, Julian S. Rechberger, Stephanie A. Toll, Jonathan D. Schwartz, David J. Daniels, Jeffrey S. Miller, Soumen Khatua

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Despite advances in treatment regimens that comprise surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, outcome of many brain tumors remains dismal, more so when they recur. The proximity of brain tumors to delicate neural structures often precludes complete surgical resection. Toxicity and long-term side effects of systemic therapy remain a concern. Novel therapies are warranted. The field of NK cell-based cancer therapy has grown exponentially and currently constitutes a major area of immunotherapy innovation. This provides a new avenue for the treatment of cancerous lesions in the brain. In this review, we explore the mechanisms by which the brain tumor microenvironment suppresses NK cell mediated tumor control, and the methods being used to create NK cell products that subvert immune suppression. We discuss the pre-clinical studies evaluating NK cell-based immunotherapies that target several neuro-malignancies and highlight advances in molecular imaging of NK cells that allow monitoring of NK cell-based therapeutics. We review current and ongoing NK cell based clinical trials in neuro-oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
Journalnpj Precision Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No individuals other than the listed co-authors contributed to this publication. This research received no funding support. Figures are original and were created with

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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