NK cell-based immunotherapies in Pediatric Oncology

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2015 Mar;37(2):79-93. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000000303.


The past decade has seen several anticancer immunotherapeutic strategies transition from "promising preclinical models" to treatments with proven clinical activity or benefit. In 2013, the journal Science selected the field of Cancer Immunotherapy as the overall number-1 breakthrough for the year in all of scientific research. In the setting of cancer immunotherapy for adult malignancies, many of these immunotherapy strategies have relied on the cancer patient's endogenous antitumor T-cell response. Although much promising research in pediatric oncology is similarly focused on T-cell reactivity, several pediatric malignancies themselves, or the chemo-radiotherapy used to achieve initial responses, can be associated with profound immune suppression, particularly of the T-cell system. A separate component of the immune system, also able to mediate antitumor effects and less suppressed by conventional cancer treatment, is the NK-cell system. In recent years, several distinct immunotherapeutic approaches that rely on the activity of NK cells have moved from preclinical development into clinical testing, and some have shown clear antitumor benefit. This review provides an overview of NK cell-based immunotherapy efforts that are directed toward childhood malignancies, with an emphasis on protocols that are already in clinical testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis