Natural killer (NK) cells recognize targets that have been changed via malignant transformation or infection. Previously, NK cells were thought to be short-lived, but we now know that NK cells can be long-lived and remember past exposures in response to CMV. NK cells use a plethora of activating and inhibitory receptors to recognize these changes and attack targets, but tumour cells often evade NK cells. Therefore, major efforts are being made to hone in on NK cell antitumour properties in immunotherapy. In the clinical setting, haploidentical NK cells can be adoptively transferred to help treat cancer. To expand NK cells in vivo and enhance tumour targeting, IL-15 is being tested in combination with a glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3 inhibitor (CHIR99021), an inhibitor that has been shown to expand mature, highly functional NK cells capable of killing multiple tumour targets. One major limitation to NK cell therapy is lack of specificity. To address this concern, bispecific or trispecific engagers that target NK cells to the tumour and an ADAM17 inhibitor that prevents CD16 shedding after NK cell activation are being tested. Additionally, monoclonal antibodies are being designed to redirect the inhibitory signals that limit NK cell functionality. Further understanding of the biology of NK cells will inform strategies to exploit NK cells for therapeutic purposes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the following NIH grants: P01CA111412 (JSM), P01 CA65493 (JSM), R01 HL122216 (JSM) and R35 CA197292 (JSM).
This work was supported by the following NIH grants: P01CA111412