NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy: from basic biology to clinical development

J Hematol Oncol. 2021 Jan 6;14(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s13045-020-01014-w.


Natural killer (NK) cell is a specialized immune effector cell type that plays a critical role in immune activation against abnormal cells. Different from events required for T cell activation, NK cell activation is governed by the interaction of NK receptors with target cells, independent of antigen processing and presentation. Due to relatively unsophisticated cues for activation, NK cell has gained significant attention in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Many efforts are emerging for developing and engineering NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy. In this review, we provide our current understandings of NK cell biology, ongoing pre-clinical and clinical development of NK cell-based therapies and discuss the progress, challenges, and future perspectives.

Keywords: Cancer immunotherapy; Clinical trials; NK cell; iPSC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Surveillance
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / transplantation*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Tumor Escape