Natural Killer Cell Therapies: Pipeline Review

Natural killer (NK) Cell Therapies , or killer (K) cells, represent an important subset of cellular mediators of the innate immune system. These cells are known to be instrumental in containing viral infections and regulating tumor development, while the adaptive immune system generates an antigen-specific response. Several studies have demonstrated the various benefits of NK cells as a therapeutic tool. Currently, these cells are being evaluated across multiple clinical trials to treat various types of cancer and infectious diseases.

I have highlighted below some of the most interesting insights from our study.


Natural killer (NK) cells, an integral component of the innate immune system, are believed to possess the potential to overcome the limitations of patient-specific cell therapies, and may eventually prove to be better than approved immunotherapy products

Currently, there are over 100 approved immunotherapies across different product classes

Presently, over 150 research studies, evaluating various types of NK cell-based therapy candidates for oncological indications, are underway

Majority of the developers uses intravenous route of administration and are targeted for solid tumors

The NK cell therapy pipeline features both off-the-shelf and personalized therapy candidates, with several leads being developed in combination with other drugs; the contribution of older companies is worth recognizing

Close to 60% of the therapies uses allogenic as a source of cell and uses combination therapy.

However, over the years, many clinical development programs have been discontinued / indefinitely suspended, most of which were early stage (phase I / phase I/II) trials, due to various reasons


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