Natural killer cells and their therapeutic role in pancreatic cancer: A systematic review

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Abstract

Pancreatic cancer is among the three deadliest cancers worldwide with the lowest 5-year survival of all cancers. Despite all efforts, therapeutic improvements have barely been made over the last decade. Even recent highly promising targeted and immunotherapeutic approaches did not live up to their expectations. Therefore, other horizons have to be explored. Natural Killer (NK) cells are gaining more and more interest as a highly attractive target for cancer immunotherapies, both as pharmaceutical target and for cell therapies. In this systematic review we summarise the pathophysiological adaptions of NK cells in pancreatic cancer and highlight possible (future) therapeutic NK cell-related targets. Furthermore, an extensive overview of recent therapeutic approaches with an effect on NK cells is given, including cytokine-based, viro- and bacteriotherapy and cell therapy. We also discuss ongoing clinical trials that might influence NK cells. In conclusion, although several issues regarding NK cells in pancreatic cancer remain unsolved and need further investigation, extensive evidence is already provided that support NK cell oriented approaches in pancreatic cancer.

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