At the heart of Fate’s therapy is engineering white blood cells known as natural killer cells to do a better job of killing tumor cells.
Natural killer cells play a key role in preventing and eliminating tumor cells. Once immune system antibodies bind to cancer cells, the body sends a signal that attracts immune cells to the cancer, where they attack it. Natural killer cells are a major participant in the process, which scientists know as antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity.
Natural killer cells use a protein on their surface called CD16 to bind to antibodies. But some cancer patients have low levels of CD16 on their natural killer cells, eliminating their ability to fight tumors.
FT516 is a natural killer cell product derived from stem cells. Fate engineers it to produce a special CD16 protein whose levels remain high in natural killer cells. The engineered CD16 protein also binds antibodies to cancer cells more efficiently than naturally occurring CD16.
Fate said FT516 has shown strong, long-lasting anti-tumor activity in animals and in cells grown in a laboratory. The company hopes to develop FT516 into a treatment against several types of tumors, either alone