Can a type of white blood cell help in the fight against cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Did you know you have a whole family of white blood cells? Most are involved in your immune response, and they all have various jobs. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson says one of these cells, called a natural killer cell, is the latest type to be recruited for possible cancer therapy.

Nelson: Their name sort of hints at what they tend to do. They basically kill virally infected cells and they may even be one of the types of immune cells that can kill early cancer cells. They recognize very specific things when they do so. When they’ve been used in the preclinical model studies and the limited use they’ve been in humans so far one of the things that’s interesting about them is that they don’t seem to generate this cytokine storm kind of thing that makes people sick with CAR-T cells.   :29

CAR-T therapy uses another type of white blood cell but can cause an overwhelming immune response known as a cytokine storm. Nelson says if natural killer cells can be effective but not cause this that would be a win-win. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.