Adding chimeric antigen receptors to T cells (CAR-T), causing them to aggressively target cancer cells, has proven to be a fruitful approach to the treatment of cancer. Like most immunotherapies, it can result in potentially severe side-effects related to excessive immune activation, but it is also quite effective. Treatment of forms of leukemia in particular has produced good results in a large fraction of patients who have trialed the therapy. In the research reported here, scientists extend the chimeric antigen receptor approach to natural killer cells rather than T cells, noting that this may prove to be both safer and logistically easier to deploy to large numbers of patients.
Genetically engineered T cells that destroy cancer cells have proven to be promising options when other treatments fail. However, there’s currently no one-size-fits-all CAR T, and each patient needs his own bespoke intervention. Now, researchers report that natural killer cells, grown from human induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells and modified in a similar way to CAR-T cells, are effective against ovarian cancer in a mouse model. The result paves the way for developing an “off the shelf” immunotherapy that doesn’t need to be personalized