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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01205

Cancer Immunotherapy Based on Natural Killer Cells: Current Progress and New Opportunities

  • 1Zhejiang University, China
  • 2School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, China
  • 3Zhejiang Provincial People's Hospital, China

Cancer immunotherapy has been firmly established as a new milestone for cancer therapy, with the development of multiple immune cells as therapeutic tools. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells endowed with potent cytolytic activity against tumors, and meanwhile act as regulatory cells for the immune system. The effecacy of NK cell-mediated immunotherapy can be enhanced by immune stimulants such as cytokines and antibodies, and adoptive transfer of activated NK cells expanded ex vivo. In addition, NK cells can arm themselves with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which may greatly enhance their anti-tumor activity. Most recently, extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from NK cells show promising anti-tumor effects in preclinical studies. Herein, we carefully review the current progress in these NK cell-based immunotherapeutic strategies (NK cells combined with stimulants, adoptive transfer of NK cells, CAR-NK cells and NK EVs) for the treatment of cancers, and discussed the challenges and opportunities for opening a new horizon for cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: cancer immunotherapy, Natural Killer cell, Cytokines, Antibodies, Adoptive cellular immunotherapy, Chimeric Antigen Receptor, extracellular vesicles

Received: 17 Jan 2019; Accepted: 13 May 2019.

Edited by:

Kate Stringaris, National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States

Reviewed by:

Amorette Barber, Longwood University, United States
Robert J. Canter, University of California, Davis, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Hu, Wang, Huang, Sui and Xu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Dongsheng Huang, Zhejiang Provincial People's Hospital, Hangzhou, 310014, Zhejiang Province, China, dshuang@zju.edu.cn
Dr. Yibing Xu, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, yibingxu@zju.edu.cn