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Targeting a cytokine checkpoint enhances the fitness of armored cord blood CAR-NK cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Katy Rezvani

Original languageEnglish
E-pub ahead of print9 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 American Society of Hematology.

King's Authors


Immune checkpoint therapy has resulted in remarkable improvements in the outcome for certain cancers. To broaden the clinical impact of checkpoint targeting, we devised a strategy that couples targeting of the cytokine-inducible SH2-containing (CIS) protein, a key negative regulator of interleukin (IL)-15 signaling, with fourth generation 'armored' chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-IL-15) engineering of cord blood (CB) derived natural killer (NK) cells. This combined strategy boosted NK cell effector function through enhancing the Akt/mTORC1 axis and c-MYC signaling, resulting in increased aerobic glycolysis. When tested in a lymphoma mouse model, this combined approach improved NK cell anti-tumor activity more than either alteration alone, eradicating lymphoma xenografts without signs of any measurable toxicity. We conclude that targeting a cytokine checkpoint further enhances the antitumor activity of IL-15 secreting armored CAR-NK cells by promoting their metabolic fitness and anti-tumor activity. This combined approach represents a promising milestone in the development of the next generation of NK cells for cancer immunotherapy.

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