Thursday, March 08, 2007
Have you heard of TANK cells? It stands for tumor activeated natural killer cells. Natural Killer cells are part of the non-specific immune system and are though to play a role in defence against tumors, though we have been very poor at recruiting them in clinical practice. It has now been shown that they can be activated by exposure to the acute lymphoblastic cell-line CTV-1. Once activated they kill acute myeloid leukemia cells with great facility. Indeed, they can each kill more than one leukemia cell; they are wasps not bees: they don't kill themselves while killing teh leukemia. The good thing about them is that they don't need to be matched, so anybody's cells can be harvested and activated and then infused into any patient. To prevent their rejection, the patient has to be given fludarabine and Campath, but they do not cause graft-versus-host disease. Coming soon to a clinical trial near you. I wonder if they kill CLL cells.