Use of allogeneic NK cells for cancer immunotherapy

Immunotherapy. 2011 Dec;3(12):1445-59. doi: 10.2217/imt.11.131.


Controversy exists as to the role that the immune system plays in cancer therapy. While the immune system has been proposed to scavenge the body to prevent microscopic transformation from forming cancer, it has been difficult to mount its potential of shrinking established tumors. NK cells are components of the innate immune system. They can recognize targets without prior sensitization, making them ideal candidates to manipulate for therapeutic use against cancer. Initially, autologous NK cells were directed against tumors but it was realized that NK cells that recognize self cells are inhibited. More encouraging advances have been made with allogeneic NK cell therapy in clinical trials to overcome this limitation. In this article, we present developments in NK cell adoptive immunotherapy for hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / transplantation
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantigens