iNKT cell expansion protocol (SJ-12-0033)

St. Jude Reference #SJ-12-0033


Researchers at St. Jude have developed a method for expanding human natural killer T (NKT) cells from cellular therapy sources including but not limited to peripheral blood, bone marrow, and umbilical cord blood. The method applies a unique stimulation technique with or without a K562 cell line transduced to express the 41BBL ligand with or without membrane-bound IL-15 (K562-41BBL-mbIL15 or K562-41BBL).

This application can be applied to grow regulatory NKT cells from cellular therapy sources for use in research on these cells, and for their application in  therapy of  a wide variety of cancers, auto-immune disorders including but not limited to some forms of diabetes, augmentation of vaccines including but not limited to infectious and tumor-specific vaccines, and transplantation including but not limited to prevention and treatment of graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease, and treatment of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders.

This invention has several advantages over existing technology as follows:

  • Much higher and consistent expansion yield than prior protocols
  • Ability to expand NKT cells from a variety of different cellular therapy sources for use with those cellular therapies
  • More consistent phenotype of the expanded cells in their ability to prevent reactions between immune cells
  • Significant ability of these expanded NKT cells to kill diverse subtypes of tumor cells and thus to be applied in cancer immune therapies
  • Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) compatibility


Natural killer T cells, expansion yield, cellular therapy, tumor cells, cancer immune therapies

Granted patents or published applications

WO 2015/112793 published, U.S. patent pending

Licensing opportunities

St. Jude is seeking a partner or partners to help develop this NK T cell expansion for use with therapies.

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