eISSN: 1644-4124
ISSN: 1426-3912
Central European Journal of Immunology
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A brief review of clinical trials involving manipulation of invariant NKT cells as a promising approach in future cancer therapies

Małgorzata Waldowska, Agnieszka Bojarska-Junak, Jacek Roliński

(Cent Eur J Immunol 2017; 42 (2):181-195)
In the recent years researchers have put a lot of emphasis on the possible immunotherapeutic strategies able to target tumors. Many studies have proven that the key role in recognition and eradication of cancer cells, both for mice and humans, is being conducted by the invariant natural killer T-cells (NKT). This small subpopulation of lymphocytes can kill other cells, either directly or indirectly, through the natural killer cells’ (NK) activation. They can also swiftly release cytokines, causing the involvement of elements of the innate and acquired immune system. With the discovery of α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) – the first known agonist for iNKT cells – and its later subsequent analogs, it became possible to effectively stimulate iNKT cells, hence to keep control over the tumor progression. This article refers to the current knowledge concerning iNKT cells and the most important aspects of their antitumor activity. It also highlights the clinical trials that aim at increasing the amount of iNKT cells in general and in the microenvironment of the tumor. For sure, the iNKT-based immunotherapeutic approach holds a great potential and is highly probable to become a part of the cancer immunotherapy in the future.

immunotherapy, iNKT, invariant NKT, CD1d, tumor immunology

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