Adoptive nk cell therapy: A promising treatment prospect for metastatic melanoma

Amanda A. van Vliet*, Anna Maria Georgoudaki, Monica Raimo, Tanja D. de Gruijl, Jan Spanholtz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) represents a promising alternative approach for patients with treatment-resistant metastatic melanoma. Lately, tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy have shown improved clinical outcome, compared to conventional chemotherapy or immunotherapy. Nevertheless, they are limited by immune escape of the tumor, cytokine release syndrome, and manufacturing challenges of autologous therapies. Conversely, the clinical use of Natural Killer (NK) cells has demonstrated a favorable clinical safety profile with minimal toxicities, providing an encouraging treatment alternative. Unlike T cells, NK cells are activated, amongst other mechanisms, by the downregulation of HLA class I molecules, thereby overcoming the hurdle of tumor immune escape. However, impairment of NK cell function has been observed in melanoma patients, resulting in deteriorated natural defense. To overcome this limitation, “activated” autologous or allogeneic NK cells have been infused into melanoma patients in early clinical trials, showing encouraging clinical benefit. Furthermore, as several NK cell-based therapeutics are being developed for different cancers, an emerging variety of approaches to increase migration and infiltration of adoptively transferred NK cells towards solid tumors is under preclinical investigation. These developments point to adoptive NK cell therapy as a highly promising treatment for metastatic melanoma in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4722
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

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