Could Natural Killer Cells Treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

HealthDay News — A new type of immunotherapy involving natural killer (NK) cells may help treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, according to a study published in the September 21 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Todd Fehniger, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues sought to enhance the inherent capabilities of NK cells. The researchers started with NK cells donated by patients’ close relatives. Those cells were incubated overnight in a mixture of interleukins 12, 15, and 18.

Of nine AML patients who were given the therapy and could be followed, 4 had a complete remission for up to 6 months. A fifth had a partial remission. There were no major safety problems, according to Fehniger. Patients had only mild side effects, such as a slight fever.

The next step, Fehniger told HealthDay, is to test the NK therapy in a larger number of patients, at the highest dose used in this initial study. The researchers also plan to study NK cells in combination with other therapies, including “mini” bone marrow transplants.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)