Thursday, 21 March 2013

New method to mass produce natural killer cells

A team of researchers, led by Dan Kaufman, released a study today in which they describe a new method for producing anti-cancer natural killer cells from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Although this has been achieved in the past, the researchers say that their method produces way more cells than any other technique previously described.

According to Kaufman, natural killer cells hold much promise in the battle against cancer and have the advantage of coming "without the need for donor matching and prior treatment". Furthermore, advances in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell research could eventually create an "unlimited source" of anti-cancer cells for ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy.”

As mentioned before, this is not the first time researchers derive natural killer cells (NK), or other types of lymphocytes, from stem cells. However, the researchers say that previous methods only allowed the production of NK cells on a limited scale.

In this study, the researchers describe a method that both increases the produced cells and also reduces the amount of work required to do so. The researchers used a two-stage culture system to efficiently produce NK cells from human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Furthermore, their technique doesn't require the use of any xenogeneic stromal cells.


Natural killer cells (also known as NK cells) are a type of lymphocyte (a white blood cell) and a component of innate immune system. They play a vital role in combating both tumours and virally infected cells. 

Informational video about natural killer cells


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Reference
Knorr, D., Ni, Z., Hermanson, D., Hexum, M., Bendzick, L., Cooper, L., Lee, D., & Kaufman, D. (2013). Clinical-Scale Derivation of Natural Killer Cells From Human Pluripotent Stem Cells for Cancer Therapy Stem Cells Translational Medicine DOI: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0084

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