Funded Research

Memory-like Natural Killer Cell Immunotherapy for Pediatric and Young Adult Leukemia Patients
Principal Investigator(s):
  • Todd Fehniger, M.D., Ph.D. Medicine
  • McDonnell Pediatric Cancer Center
Award Mechanism:
Interdisciplinary Research Initiative
Project Period:
2/1/2017 - 1/31/2020
Total Amount:
Amanda Cashen, Jeffrey Bednarski

Brief background of the proposal and its relevance to the CDI’s objectives

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in pediatric or young adult (YA) patients remains a clinical challenge. Most patients require a bone marrow transplant (BMT) for cure. For patients who relapse after BMT, survival is poor and new treatment approaches are desperately needed. Recent studies have shown that combined cytokine activation of white blood cells called natural killer (NK) cells improves their ability to combat myeloid leukemia. This project utilizes these cytokine-induced, memory-like NK cells as a personalized cellular immunotherapy strategy for relapsed pediatric/YA AML patients. Following chemotherapy treatment, patients are infused with a combination of their donor’s T cells and memory-like NK cells. This approach allows the T and memory-like NK cells to work together to eliminate the AML cells.

Proposed specific aims

·         Complete a pilot clinical trial of donor memory-like NK cells infused with T cells for pediatric/YA

patients with AML that has relapsed following BMT.

·         Elucidate the expansion, activation, and functionality of memory-like NK cells within pediatric/YA

leukemia patients treated in this pilot clinical trial.

Potential impact on child health

This new personalized NK cell immunotherapy approach has the potential to cure relapsed pediatric and young adult AML patients.