Human iPSC-Derived Natural Killer Cells Engineered with Chimeric Antigen Receptors Enhance Anti-tumor Activity

Ye Li, David L. Hermanson, Branden S. Moriarity, Dan S. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

611 Scopus citations


Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) significantly enhance the anti-tumor activity of immune effector cells. Although most studies have evaluated CAR expression in T cells, here we evaluate different CAR constructs that improve natural killer (NK) cell-mediated killing. We identified a CAR containing the transmembrane domain of NKG2D, the 2B4 co-stimulatory domain, and the CD3ζ signaling domain to mediate strong antigen-specific NK cell signaling. NK cells derived from human iPSCs that express this CAR (NK-CAR-iPSC-NK cells) have a typical NK cell phenotype and demonstrate improved anti-tumor activity compared with T-CAR-expressing iPSC-derived NK cells (T-CAR-iPSC-NK cells) and non-CAR-expressing cells. In an ovarian cancer xenograft model, NK-CAR-iPSC-NK cells significantly inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival compared with PB-NK cells, iPSC-NK cells, or T-CAR-iPSC-NK cells. Additionally, NK-CAR-iPSC-NK cells demonstrate in vivo activity similar to that of T-CAR-expressing T cells, although with less toxicity. These NK-CAR-iPSC-NK cells now provide standardized, targeted “off-the-shelf” lymphocytes for anti-cancer immunotherapy. Natural killer (NK) cells are a key part of the immune system's ability to mediate anti-cancer activity. Li et al. utilize human iPSCs to produce NK cells with novel chimeric antigen receptors that specifically target cancer cells in an antigen-specific manner to improve survival in an ovarian cancer xenograft model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-192.e5
JournalCell Stem Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • chimeric antigen receptors
  • iPSCs
  • immunotherapy
  • natural killer cells
  • ovarian cancer


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