Fate Therapeutics Collaborating on New Cancer Treatment

Brian O'Connell  |


The partnership between the research team at the University of Minnesota and Fate Therapeutics FATE is looking at a new course of cancer treatment, which focuses on the use of natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are special white blood cells that hunt down diseases in the body and attack them, which is why research is focusing on these cells. It's believed that increasing the number of NK cells can give the immune system a big enough boost to enable it to kill various types of cancer.

The project is looking at the possibility of using cytomegalovirus, which is the virus responsible for causing chickenpox and mononucleosis. Jeff Miller, M.D., who leads the University of Minnesota project and serves as the deputy director of the school's Masonic Cancer Center, believes the virus is the best chance to boost the body's production of NK cells. Once that immunological response has been initiated, he believes the NK cells will go after any cancer cells in the body and kill them.

Partnering with the University of Minnesota gives Fate Therapeutics the exclusive option of retaining rights to all intellectual properties and research conducted in relation to this research on NK cells. They will possess the rights to background intellectual properties used in the research, as well as the rights to any other intellectual properties produced as a result of the research. Currently, the researchers working on the project are trying to determine how effective the NK cell therapy treatment will be, when compared to the effectiveness of other existing cancer treatments.

The University of Minnesota hope that they will be able to start the first clinical trials of the treatment within the next 24 months. Those trials will specifically target cases of acute myeloid leukemia. They chose that type of cancer in particular, because it targets the body's blood and bone marrow, making it more resistant to traditional cancer treatments. If those trials are successful, it may pave the way for adapting the treatment to other types of cancer.

If the research is successful, it may give Fate Therapeutics a series of new cancer drugs that will produce much better results than traditional treatments. However, it remains to be seen if immunotherapy treatments really can provide a significant advantage in winning the war against cancer.

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