Three receive grant for NK cell-based therapy trial for kids with AML 

School of Medicine professors
Fehniger (left), Bednarski and Pfeiffer

Todd A. Fehniger, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, and co-principal investigators Jeffrey J. Bednarski, MD, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics, and Thomas Pfeiffer, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics, all at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have received a total of $1.4 million from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research and Siteman Kids. The funding will support a phase 2 clinical trial of a novel cell-based immunotherapy used in conjunction with a stem cell transplant. Developed at Washington University, the immunotherapy is for children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer.   

With the goal of reducing relapse after stem cell transplantation, the researchers will treat patients with memory-like natural killer (NK) cells, a type of immune cell, that have been exposed to a protein cocktail that reprograms them to better identify and eliminate cancer cells. The memory-like NK cells will come from the same donor who provided the patient’s stem cells and be given about one week after a patient’s stem cell transplant. 

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