02.10.22

Allogeneic HSC-Engineered iNKT Cells for Off-the-Shelf Cancer Immunotherapy

Li Y-R, Zhou Y, Kim YJ, et al. Development of Allogeneic HSC-Engineered iNKT Cells for Off-the-Shelf Cancer Immunotherapy. Cell Reports Medicine. 2021; 2 (11): 100449 (doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100449).

While endogenous invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells — known for their powerful action against cancer — are only present at trace levels in human blood, preclinical research suggests that manufacturing off-the-shelf iNKT cells in bulk would have great potential in T-cell-based immunotherapy. Created by coupling hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene engineering with in vitro differentiation, these AlloHSC-iNKT cells are generated at high yield and purity. They closely mimic endogenous iNKT cells, employing various mechanisms to attack tumor cells. Importantly, they do so without triggering graft-versus-host disease. Given their high safety, low immunogenicity, and robust antitumor efficacy, AlloHSC-iNKT cell products manufactured in large numbers appear to be a viable tool to support cancer immunotherapy on a broader scale. As opposed to more time- and cost-intensive autologous cell therapy, which limits treatment to a single patient, researchers say this approach could potentially help a wide population of cancer patients. "Further exploration of AlloHSC-iNKT cells as allogeneic cell carriers for developing off-the-shelf cell therapy for the treatment of cancer, especially solid tumors, will certainly be an interesting direction for future study," they write.

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