Natural killer cell therapy in children with relapsed leukemia

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Background.Novel therapies are needed for children with relapsed or refractory leukemia. We therefore tested the safety and feasibility of haploidentical natural killer cell therapy in this patient population.Procedure.Twenty-nine children who had relapsed or refractory leukemia were treated with chemotherapy followed by the infusion of haploidentical NK cells. Cohort 1 included 14 children who had not undergone prior allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), whereas Cohort 2 included 15 children with leukemia that had relapsed after HCT.Results.Twenty-six (90%) NK donors were KIR mismatched (14 with one KIR and 12 with 2 KIRs). The peak NK chimerism levels were >10% donor in 87% of the evaluable recipients. In Cohort 1, 10 had responsive disease and 12 proceeded to HCT thereafter. Currently, 5 (36%) are alive without leukemia. In Cohort 2, 10 had responsive disease after NK therapy and successfully proceeded to second HCT. At present, 4 (27%) are alive and leukemia-free. The NK cell infusions and the IL-2 injections were well-tolerated.Conclusions.NK cell therapy is safe, feasible, and should be further investigated in patients with chemotherapy-resistant leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015;62:1468–1472. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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