White blood cells called natural killer cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, Elizabeth Tracey reports


A type of cell involved in your immune response known as a natural killer cell may soon be used widely to combat some cancers. That’s according to William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, who says the cells have multiple advantages over some other types of white blood cells being used for this purpose.

Nelson: There also is a possibility that you may be able to use natural killer cells from someone else, they’re more tolerate of this barrier between tissue types across people, that’s hard to do with T cells. The other is you can make antibodies. Antibodies have two recognition arms, they’re like a giant Y. can you make rather than bispecific T cell engagers can you make bispecific natural killer cells engagers. If they’re effective then they’ll become part of the arsenal of immunotherapy.  :29

Nelson says trials utilizing natural killer cells are underway. Hopes are high they may replace so-called CAR-T cells, which are very expensive to produce and may provoke an overwhelming immune response that can be deadly. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.