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New Way to Mass-produce Natural Cancer-killing Cells Offers Hope for Patients

Durham, NC (PRWEB) March 20, 2013

In a new study published by STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, scientists report on a way to produce natural cancer-killing cells in the lab in a quantity that could one day make them viable for treating patients.

While the production of human natural killer (NK) cells in the lab from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has become routine, it’s been on a limited scale. But this study shows how to increase the number of resulting cells while also reducing the amount of work and time involved in producing them.

“NK cells show promise for cancer therapy,” said Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Stem Cell Institute, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “They are part of the innate immune system and exhibit potent antitumor activity without the need for donor matching and prior treatment.

“Moreover, the derivation of NK cells from pluripotent stem cells could provide an unlimited source of lymphocytes for ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy.”

Dr. Kaufman was the lead investigator on the study that included colleagues from UM as well as from the Integrated Center of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, St. Anne's University Hospital Brno, Brno, Czech Republic; and the University of Texas, Houston.

“Human NK cells have been used to treat patients with refractory malignancies, but a major hindrance to expanded use has been the inefficiency of production,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., Editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “The current study has identified a two-stage culture system to efficiently produce the cells in a manner more suitable to clinical translation than previous methods.”


The full article, “Clinical Scale Derivation of Natural Killer Cells from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells for Cancer Therapy,” can be accessed at

Media inquiries may be addressed to Caroline R. Marin, Media Relations Coordinator, University of Minnesota, Academic Health Center Office of Communications, Office: 612-624-5680, Email: crmarin(at)umn(dot)edu

About STEM CELLS Translational Medicine: STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE (SCTM), published by AlphaMed Press, is a monthly peer-reviewed publication dedicated to significantly advancing the clinical utilization of stem cell molecular and cellular biology. By bridging stem cell research and clinical trials, SCTM will help move applications of these critical investigations closer to accepted best practices.

About AlphaMed Press: Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC, San Francisco, CA, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, publishes two other internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: STEM CELLS® (, in its 31st year, is the world's first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research. The Oncologist® (, also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, entering its 18th year, is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. All three journals are premier periodicals with globally recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines.

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