Co-founder of Amniotics AB (publ) and colleagues at Lund University publish study towards anticancer treatments
February 1, 2022
Amniotics AB co-founder Niels-Bjarne Woods and colleagues at Lund University Stem Cell Center, have recently published an article in EMBO Reports showing a novel mechanism of generating specific blood cells that may form the basis for novel treatment modalities for some of the most severe types of cancers. The findings of the study show that metabolic regulators can be used to direct blood development in vitro to specific blood lineages and thereby increase the production and purity of cells with antitumor activity, such as Natural Killer (NK) cells.
NK cells are immune cells that specifically target and attack tumor cells, and in the process ensure recruitment of additional immune cells of many types, that along with the NK cells target the tumor for destruction. The use of NK cells, in particular NK cells with genetic modifications to further increase targeting and antitumor function, is expected to be a game changing breakthrough in anticancer therapies.
The NK cells generated in this study were derived following differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). IPSCs are cells harvested from adult tissues that are reprogrammed to an embryonic state and thus can be used to generate theoretically unlimited numbers of any cell type required in the body. The use of iPSC derived NK cells should allow for truly off-the-shelf NK cell transplantation based anti-cancer treatments for faster and better treatment, for patients due to that large batch cell production will be feasible.
The novelty of the study is that feeding pyruvate metabolism during blood cell development from the iPSCs can guide the production of specific blood cell types. Increasing pyruvate metabolism was able to direct the hemogenic endothelium (the precursor to blood during embryonic development) towards definitive hematopoietic lineages. This increased the levels of NK cells both in in vitro assays and in animal models transplanted with the human iPSC derived cells.
Amniotics is the holder of the IP generated in these studies and is investigating ways of utilizing this technology to further propel its anti-cancer platform, via generating truly off-the-shelf NK cells for cancer cell targeting and destruction, as well as develop the next generation production of blood cells for transplantation for the treatment of numerous other diseases.