Expansion of NK cells and therapeutic uses thereof (SJ-03-0018B)

St. Jude Reference #SJ-03-0018B


There is a growing interest among oncologists in the use of natural killer (NK) cells for cell therapy of cancer. In particular, the use of allogeneic NK cell either in the context of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or through infusion in immunosuppressed (but not myeloablated) patients is an attractive tool for eradicating residual disease. St. Jude investigators developed a method that allows specific expansion of human NK cells from peripheral blood cells that relies on the coculture of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with an irradiated, genetically-modified leukemia cell line (K562-mb15-41BBL). These expanded NK cells are significantly more cytotoxic than their unstimulated counterparts.  They are particularly active against acute myeloid leukemia cells and some childhood solid tumors, both in vitro and in animal models. Activity against other types of cancer remains to be tested. A Phase I trial utilizing NK cells expanded with the K562-mb15-41BBL opened at St. Jude in September 2008.


NK cells,  leukemia therapy

Granted patents or published applications

U.S. Patent No. 7,435,596

Related scientific references

Imai C., Iwamoto S., Campana D. Genetic modification of primary natural killer cells overcomes inhibitory signals and induces specific killing of leukemic cells. Blood. 2005 Jul 1;106(1):376-83. Epub 2005 Mar 8.

Licensing opportunities

We are seeking a licensee willing to provide a clinical grade K562-mb15-41BBL cell line to other academic and corporate entities. The licensee could also consider expanding NK cells from different donors on demand and generating a bank of NK cells.

Contact the Office of Technology Licensing (Phone: 901-595-2342, Fax: 901-595-3148) for more information.