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Natural Killer (NK) cells is a group of innate immune cells that exhibit strong cytolytic activity against cancer cells and virus-infected cells when activated. The NK cell activity is regulated by a complex interplay between activating and inhibitory receptors. However, unique for the NK cells is that they are able to kill target cells in an MHC-I independent manner.
Because NK cells do not express a T-cell receptor (TCR), the cells are being investigated as allogeneic cell therapies in multiple clinical trials. To increase the cytolytic capacity, especially in a highly inhibitory tumor microenvironment, the NK cells can be genetically engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR).
Likewise, much research is going into the development of multiplex genome engineering of NK cells as well as iPSC derived NK cell therapies.
Figure 1: The figure shows a simple diagram of CAR-engineered and naked NK cells in the interaction with cancer cells. The figure is produced by Glycostem.
Large deals are happening in the space of NK cell companies. In 2021 Nkarta joined a development on CAR-T cells with promising genome engineering company CRISPR Therapeutics, and this is not the only promising partnerships with natural killer cell companies.
Stargazing Bio Research has collected all of these natural killer cell therapy companies in this database. The database contains more than 70 confirmed NK cell, CAR-NK and iPSC-NK therapy companies developing NK cell modalities, this being preclinical or clinical development.