April 10, 2019 - 16:17 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - In a first-of-its-kind trial in the United States, researchers are testing a stem cell-derived natural killer cell immunotherapy in people with incurable cancer, Medical News Today reports.
Cancer follows heart disease as the second biggest killer worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 606,880 people will die due to cancer in 2019.
With the advent of immunotherapy, researchers hoped to boost a person's immune system to fight and destroy tumors effectively. Although this type of therapy has completely changed the treatment landscape for cancers such as melanoma, there remain a significant number of people whose tumors can evade their immune system.
Joining the likes of adoptive cell transfer and checkpoint inhibitors on the list of immunotherapies are natural killer (NK) cells. These specialized white blood cells come equipped with a potent armory of tools to make short work of cancer cells.
Now, researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego School of Medicine are running a clinical trial with industrial collaborator Fate Therapeutics to investigate NK cells both alone and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors in people with advanced solid tumors.
One particular factor sets this study apart from others using NK cells for similar purposes.
This "off-the-shelf" NK immunotherapy trial is the first in the U.S. to use cells that the researchers have derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.