Cancer researchers find partner to help advance NK cell therapies

Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.

Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.

The University of Minnesota has found a new research partner in the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Fate Therapeutics Inc. The company develops programmed cell therapies to treat life-threatening diseases and will work with Masonic Cancer Center scientists Jeffrey Miller, M.D., and Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., to further develop their research on natural killer (NK) cell–based cancer immunotherapies.

The collaboration will focus on two therapeutic programs that aim to exploit NK cells’ inherent ability to detect and destroy cancerous cells while leaving normal cells unharmed — potentially without the side effects associated with high-dose chemotherapy or radiation.

Jeffrey Miller, M.D.

Jeffrey Miller, M.D.

While Masonic Cancer Center scientistshave shown that NK cells can effectively and safely kill cancer cells, making enough of them to become a viable therapeutic option has been a challenge. Fate Therapeutics plans to use its cell programming approach and proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell technology to develop “off-the-shelf” NK cell–based cancer therapeutics — sparing the time and expense of having to isolate these cells from donors.

Much of Miller’s and Kaufman’s work leading up to this agreement was supported by the Masonic Cancer Center’s Cancer Experimental Therapeutics Initiative and funded in large part by Minnesota Masonic Charities.

Published on October 19, 2015