Natural killer (NK) cells play critical roles in host defense against cancer. Our group is exploring a number of avenues to enhance NK cell function against hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. These include novel strategies to expand off-the-shelf cord blood (CB)-derived NK cells based on their coculture with genetically modified feeder cells that express membrane-bound cytokines and costimulatory molecules. To redirect NK cell specificity and enhance their in vivo persistence, we have successfully transduced expanded CB NK cells with a retroviral vector incorporating the genes for CAR-CD19, IL-15, and inducible caspase-9-based suicide gene (iC9). Data from a first-in-human phase I/II clinical study to test the safety and efficacy of escalating doses of off-the-shelf iC9/CAR.19/IL-15 CB-NK cells in patients with relapsed or refractory B-lymphoid malignancies will be presented.

Citation Format: Katayoun Rezvani. Engineering natural killer cells for the treatment of cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy; 2019 Nov 17-20; Boston, MA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2020;8(3 Suppl):Abstract nr IA07.