Aptamer-engineered Natural Killer Cells for Adaptive Immunotherapy


The invention is a unique technology to engineer Natural Killer (NK) cells with synthetic oligonucleotide aptamers for tumor cell-specific cancer immunotherapy.


Stage of Development


In vitro Study:  The aptamer-engineered NK (ApEn-NK) cells could be generated via a simple one-step process in minutes. The generated ApEn-NK cells were able to specifically bind to and thus, kill tumor cells with negligible toxic effects on off-target cells.  Pre-clinical studies with primary human NK cells confirmed the high potential of ApEn-NK cells to target and induce death of tumor cells of interest.


Competitive Landscape


Cancer immunotherapy is an approach to fight cancer by using body’s immune system, including NK cells. However, NK cells do not have antigen-receptors and thus, unable to specifically attack cancer cells. For cancer immunotherapy, CAR-NK technology has emerged although the genetic manipulation NK cells might carry risk for patients and the production process is laborious and costly. In contrast, our ApEn-NK technology is a simpler and safer approach, which can convert innate NK cells into tumor cell-specific NK cells for personalized cancer immunotherapy without off-target toxicity.


Competitive Advantages


•       Rapid and one-step engineering reaction to generate ApEn-NK cells

•       Cost effective

•       The ApEn-NK cells do not have genomic manipulation and thus, are risk-free

•       The ApEn-NK technology is a universal platform for personalized cancer immunotherapy


Intellectual Property


Provisional Patent Application Filed – April 16, 2019


Patent Information:
Licensing Contact
Belisa Diaz

Youli Zu