Office for Technology Commercialization

Natural Killer Cells Resist CD16a Cleavage

Technology #20140144

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Natural Killer CellsiPS cells Cancer Treatment
Bruce Walcheck, PhD
Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
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Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD
Managed By
Raj Udupa
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-3966
Patent Protection

PCT Patent Application WO2015148926

Cell Death without CD16a Cleavage

Natural killer (NK) cells have been developed that express a cleavage-resistant form of the cell surface receptor CD16a. These CD16a cleavage resistant NK cells can be used for cell immunotherapy, particularly against human cancer. NK cells are immune cells involved in anti-tumor and anti-viral responses. NK cells induce tumor (or other target cell) death through a process called antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and by releasing cytokines. NK cell activation occurs through activation of the CD16a surface receptor. Unfortunately, during this process, CD16a is cleaved from the cell surface, which dampens the NK cell immune response. This technology allows NK cells to be activated without losing the CD16a receptor, which enhances the overall immune response.

Natural Killer Cells as Cancer Therapy

The CD16a cleavage resistant NK cells can be combined with additional therapeutic antibody treatment for greater potency. Additionally, these NK cells are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which could make them widely useful as an “off-the-shelf” cancer therapy. No other existing methods have achieved a genetically engineered, CD16a cleavage resistant stem cell.


  • NK cells retain CD16a receptor, leading to increased immune response
  • Potential treatment for cancer and viral infections
  • Can be combined with antibody therapies for wider potential applications and enhanced treatment efficacy
  • Potential “off-the-shelf” cancer treatment

Phase of Development In vitro assessment