Immunotherapy research has shown that innate immune lymphocytes known as natural killer (NK) cells can recognize and destroy certain cancers, but NK cells often poorly infiltrate solid tumors, and many tumor-infiltrating NK cells exhibit signs of dysfunction.
Researchers report a genetically engineered mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma, in which the activity of endogenous NK cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME) was stimulated to fight established disease.
The model revealed that inducing the expression of activating ligands enhanced the ability of NK cells to proliferate, produce cytokines, and penetrate tumor tissue. Notably, the heightened activity did not appear to destroy tumor cells directly, but rather enhanced the ability of NK cells within the TME to recruit T cells, which can directly target tumor cells.
Though the findings are promising, the authors caution that the response was short-lived and additional studies are required to determine the underlying mechanisms.
According to the authors, the findings suggest that NK cells can be activated even in established disease to help boost antitumor immunity.
Stimulating natural killer cells to treat lung adenocarcinoma
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