In-vitro Production of Natural Killer (NK) Cells and Creation of Immortalized NK Cell Lines
Natural Killer (NK) cells provide early defense against pathogens several days before the adaptive immune responses become operational. They are a type of lymphocyte responsible for destroying viruses and tumor cells. An NK cell kills a target cell by releasing perforin (and other molecules) which damages the target cell membrane leading to death. These cells do not need to recognize a specific antigen and can destroy hostile cells on contact. NK cells also cause death by inducing apoptosis in the target. In addition NK cells also secrete potent cytokines such as interferon-?, tumor necrosis factor-a and granulocyte-macrophage stimulating factor to enhance adaptive immune responses; they are also involved with immunoregulation. Therefore NK cells are potentially powerful weapons in immunotherapy against cancer and infectious diseases. Dr. Tsai has created a culture system that supports natural killer cell development for 2-3 months, often leading to the establishment of continuous natural killer cell lines.
Because of their non-specific cytotoxic properties for antigen and their efficacy, NK cells constitute an important population of cells for the development of immunoadoptive approaches to the treatment of cancer or infectious diseases. The cell culture industry is now a significant foundation of the biopharmaceutical annual market of $30 Billion with the immunotherapy market worth currently about $200 M.
Stage of Development
A formal patent application has been filed with the USPTO.
This technology is part of an active and ongoing research program which has been demonstrated to work in proof-of-concept experiments. It is available for licensing under either exclusive or non-exclusive terms.
*DeHart SL, Heikens MJ, Tsai S. (2005) Jagged2 promotes the development of natural killer cells and the establishment of functional natural killer cell lines. Blood. 105(9):3521-7.
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