Author(s): Carlsten M, Childs RW
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Abstract Given their rapid and efficient capacity to recognize and kill tumor cells, natural killer (NK) cells represent a unique immune cell to genetically reprogram in an effort to improve the outcome of cell-based cancer immunotherapy. However, technical and biological challenges associated with gene delivery into NK cells have significantly tempered this approach. Recent advances in viral transduction and electroporation have now allowed detailed characterization of genetically modified NK cells and provided a better understanding for how these cells can be utilized in the clinic to optimize their capacity to induce tumor regression in vivo. Improving NK cell persistence in vivo via autocrine IL-2 and IL-15 stimulation, enhancing tumor targeting by silencing inhibitory NK cell receptors such as NKG2A, and redirecting tumor killing via chimeric antigen receptors, all represent approaches that hold promise in preclinical studies. This review focuses on available methods for genetic reprograming of NK cells and the advantages and challenges associated with each method. It also gives an overview of strategies for genetic reprograming of NK cells that have been evaluated to date and an outlook on how these strategies may be best utilized in clinical protocols. With the recent advances in our understanding of the complex biological networks that regulate the ability of NK cells to target and kill tumors in vivo, we foresee genetic engineering as an obligatory pathway required to exploit the full potential of NK-cell based immunotherapy in the clinic.
This article was published in Front Immunol
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology