The human immune system has an innate ability to recognize foreign
invaders that include infectious attacks from viruses, bacteria and
other microorganisms, as well as cancer. Natural killer (NK) cells are
an important component of the innate immune system with potent
capabilities to rapidly identify and destroy foreign invaders.
Capitalizing on these capabilities, Dr. Palapattu and his team, in
This novel immunotherapeutic approach harnesses the powerful cell killing abilities of NantKwest’s activated NK cells (aNKs) that are maintained in a primed state. These cells will be further optimized by loading them with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which are engineered molecules that arm the NK cells with the ability to specifically recognize a tumor antigen (taNKs). By targeting the PSMA protein, which is specifically expressed in prostate cancer cells, the investigators aim to improve the efficiency and efficacy of prostate cancer cell killing.
NantKwest’s aNK and taNK cell-based therapies have been designed to be administered to patients as an “off-the shelf” therapeutic product. Other cell therapy-based approaches (e.g., T cells) often require cells to be manufactured individually on a patient-by-patient basis. NantKwest’s proprietary NK cells avoid this process thus facilitating ease of point of care delivery.
The efficacy of NantKwest’s PSMA-CAR NK cell therapy will be tested in preclinical models of androgen-sensitive and hormone therapy resistant prostate cancer. A Phase 1 clinical trial testing the safety and efficacy of PSMA-CAR NK cell therapy in prostate cancer patients will also be initiated. Additionally, the capacity of PSMA-CAR NK cell therapy to activate other components of the immune system will be assessed.
“Our goal is to create and test the preclinical and clinical efficacy of NK cells engineered to express a CAR molecule that directs them to target and kill prostate tumor cells,” said Dr. Palapattu. “If successful, this study will lead to a novel and powerful immunotherapeutic approach to treat advanced prostate cancer.”
The study team for this project includes: Principal Investigator: Ganesh
Palapattu, MD (
NantKwest’s unique NK cell-based platform, with the capacity to grow active killer cells as a biological cancer therapy, has been designed to induce cell death against cancer or infected cells by three different modes of action: (1) Direct killing using activated NK cells (aNK) that release toxic granules directly into the cell through cell to cell contact, (2) Antibody-mediated killing using haNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate a high affinity receptor that binds to an administered antibody, enhancing the cancer cell killing effect of that antibody, and (3) Targeted activated killing using taNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to target tumor-specific antigens found on the surface of cancer cells.
Our aNK, haNK and taNK platform addresses certain limitations of T cell
therapies including the reduction of risk of serious "cytokine storms"
reported after T cell therapy. As an “off-the-shelf” therapy,
By leveraging an integrated and extensive genomics and transcriptomics
discovery and development engine, together with a pipeline of multiple,
clinical-stage, immuno-oncology programs that include a Phase 2 trial
for a rare form of melanoma and the planned initiation of a clinical
trial of NK cells targeted to breast cancer, we believe
Jen Hodson, 562-397-3639