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What Does CAR-NK Cell Research Mean for All Cancers?

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Published on November 13, 2020

CAR-NK Clinical Trials are Expanding to Other Cancers

Chimeric Antigen Receptor Natural Killer (CAR-NK) cells can be engineered to target different antigens and potentially attack solid tumors. Building on the success of using CAR-NK cell therapy to treat leukemias and lymphomas including CLL, NHL, and ALL, researchers are developing studies to test CAR-NK therapy in a wide variety of cancers.

Dr. Katy Rezvani, Chief, Section of Cellular Therapy, Department of Stem Cell Transplantation & Cellular Therapy, MD Anderson Cancer Center joins Patient Power Co-Founder Andrew Schorr to discuss the expansion of the CAR-NK cell therapy research at MD Anderson and their Moon Shots Program, which hopes to tackle cancer through “innovation, scale, and collaboration.”


Transcript | What Does CAR-NK Cell Research Mean for All Cancers?

Andrew Schorr: Hello and welcome to Patient Power. I'm Andrew Schorr. We're visiting with a leading researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, Dr. Katy Rezvani and we're talking about the future of something she's been working on now for years and that is chimeric antigen receptor NK, natural killer cell therapy.

Dr. Rezvani, I'm somebody living with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and you've been researching it for that and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and also acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but people with other cancers say, "Well, if you can take these natural killer cells from cord blood, can it work with a targeted therapy for other cancers, breast cancer, for example. What about that?

Is CAR-NK a Possible Future Therapy for All Cancers?

Dr. Rezvani: Now the idea is, okay, let's take this platform and try and target other types of cancer. And you remember, I mentioned that NK cells are very good at recognizing cancer cells inherently. So, in my lab now, we have a large program of trying to develop NK cell immunotherapy against other types of cancers, both liquid tumors, such as leukemias and other types of lymphomas, but also against solid tumors.

For the last four or five years, we have really been focusing on glioblastoma. I've been collaborating with my colleagues here at MD Anderson, Dr. Amy Heimberger and Dr. Fred Lang in the Department of Neurosurgery to try and develop engineered NK cells for glioblastoma. And I am hopeful that we will be able to start a clinical trial early next year. The data, at least in our animal models look very promising.

And we also expanding the approach to target lung cancer, triple negative breast cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer. Different young scientists in my lab have each of these projects and I have collaborators in each of these departments at MD Anderson and we're working very closely so that we can get this treatment potentially available. And this work is supported by the Moon Shots Program at MD Anderson.

Andrew Schorr: Wow. Well, I have my fingers crossed for you and cancer patients. I hope we can look back on it and you said, this is our early research. And then we can say, "Well, boy, look what it's accomplished."

Dr. Rezvani: Thank you.

Andrew Schorr: Dr. Katy Rezvani, we're all following your work. Thank you so much for being with us.

Dr. Rezvani: Thank you very much, Andrew. I'm grateful for you taking the time to really hear about our work. And I also would like to add, I'm extremely thankful to our patients and their caregivers for putting their trust in us, for participating in our first human trials. Without their belief in us, I don't think any of this work would have happened. So, thank you.

Andrew Schorr: Right. Well, we're all in this together. We're all in this together. Thank you again. I'm Andrew Schorr. Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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