iPSC-Derived Natural Killer Cells for Cancer Immunotherapy

Mol Cells. 2021 Aug 31;44(8):541-548. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2021.0078.


The discovery of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) at the turn of the century opened the door to a new generation of regenerative medicine research. Among PSCs, the donors available for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are greatest, providing a potentially universal cell source for all types of cell therapies including cancer immunotherapies using natural killer (NK cells). Unlike primary NK cells, those prepared from iPSCs can be prepared with a homogeneous quality and are easily modified to exert a desired response to tumor cells. There already exist several protocols to genetically modify and differentiate iPSCs into NK cells, and each has its own advantages with regards to immunotherapies. In this short review, we detail the benefits of using iPSCs in NK cell immunotherapies and discuss the challenges that must be overcome before this approach becomes mainstream in the clinic.

Keywords: adoptive immunotherapy; directed differentiation; genome editing; induced pluripotent stem cells; natural killer cells.

Publication types

  • Review