During my research for a story on pediatric cancer, I learned about an experimental approach that turns the immune system’s natural killer (NK) cells into cancer fighting soldiers.
Dr. David Shook, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, published a paper in August 2010 that showed two types of solid tumors cells found in children, Ewing sarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma, were remarkably sensitive to the NK cells. This study was conducted in the lab, but phase I clinical trials are forthcoming.
Below is a time-lapse video of activated NK cells added to a culture of Ewing sarcoma cells, a pediatric bone tumor, over the course of an hour. The flat, green cells are Ewing sarcoma, and the round, more active cells with red granules are the NK cells.
Credit: David Shook, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
“Cytotoxicity of activated natural killer cells against pediatric solid tumors,” Pubmed