Introduction to cancer immunotherapy using highly active NK cells

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Recommendation of highly active NK cell therapy

What is clear in current cancer immune cell therapy is that the larger the number of cells administered is, the more effective the therapy is. The necessary number of cells is about the level that allows for the attack on cancer and at the same time, enhancement of immunity of the entire body.

When a more than acceptable amount of anticancer agents is used, normal cells would be greatly damaged and severe side effects would occur. There are almost no side effects, however, in immune cell therapy. Therefore, it does not require the same cautions as those for anticancer agents. It is possible to administer as many cells as can be cultured.

At the New City Osaki Clinic, we are using the method that allows for simultaneous culture of activated T cells and highly active NK (natural killer) cells from patients’ blood. Both types of cells are proliferated as much as possible and ten to twenty billion activated lymphocytes are administered at once. This number is at least twice as high as the number of lymphocytes in the total blood volume of a human being—ranging between four and five liters. The total number of lymphocytes including those in lymph nodes and other organs is thought to be one trillion, however, so twenty billion is only 2% of it. Two billion is only 0.2% of this total. In order to influence the lymphocytes throughout the body and enhance immunity, there is no effect in the administration of less than 1% of lymphocytes.

At our clinic, we believe that it is necessary to administer as many lymphocytes as possible in order to attack cancer and also enhance the overall immunity of the body. This idea stems from our experience. We observed steady improvements in the therapeutic outcome as we increased the number of NK cells and lymphocytes by many modifications of the culture method. As the number of lymphocytes administered grew, we saw clear changes such as an increase in the blood lymphocyte count, NK activity, NK cell count and NKG2D-positive lymphocytes, and the activation of immunity in the body.

The immunity of many cancer patients is greatly impaired not only because of cancer, but also due to cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In order to obtain the strength to fight cancer by immunotherapy, very low immune status has to be raised to a level higher than normal (healthy people). In order to do so, we have to know the characteristics of lymphocytes in each patient and culture the lymphocytes carefully. In addition, when activated lymphocytes are administered, the composition of lymphocytes circulating throughout the body (ratio of T cells or NK cells) is changed. We adjust the method for activation of lymphocytes according to these changes. At our clinic, by closely observing the process of cell culture in the laboratory inside the clinic, we make sure to grow the lymphocytes most appropriate for each patient’s cancer treatment as well as to increase the number of lymphocytes.

Regardless of the type of cancer, in order to fight cancer by enhancing the immunity of the whole body, it is important to raise:

  1. How: by the administration of a large amount of highly active NK cells
  2. By when: by about two months after the start (the cells are administered for at least four times)
  3. What: specifically, blood NK cell count and NKG2D-positive lymphocyte count
  4. To what extent: to the level higher than the level in healthy people.

To enhance the immunity of the whole body to the level higher than normal for the purpose of increasing the effect of immunotherapy, “highly active NK cell therapy” at our clinic is effective regardless of the type of cancer.

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What are the conditions for therapeutic effect:

  1. Highly active NK cell therapy is started within two months after the start of the treatment with anticancer agents and performed in parallel with the treatment with anticancer agents.
  2. We recommend that patients start the NK cell therapy while anticancer agents are still effective even to a small extent. Not much effect can be expected in the terminal phase when cancer has progressed and all the anticancer agents have become ineffective.
  3. This therapy is obviously effective when patients’ general condition is rated as PS0-1, but sufficient efficacy can be expected even when it is rated as PS2-3. With or without distant metastasis, an almost equivalent effect has been confirmed.
    (*PS = performance status, staging of general condition)
  4. It is effective to collect blood before treatment with anticancer agents, radiation therapy or surgeries and start highly active NK cell therapy after these treatments.
  5. Any cancer except tumors derived from T lymphocytes (cells) or NK cells can be treated.

The best time to start highly active NK cell therapy is immediately before the start of treatment with anticancer agents, when patients still have appetite and physical strength. First, please discuss your (patient’s) condition with our physicians in free consultation. We will propose a precise treatment plan in accordance with each patient’s circumstance.

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Cancer immunotherapy

Immune system | Cancer immunotherapy | Highly active NK cell therapy | Problems of highly active NK cells | Characteristics of highly active NK cells | “immunity-enhancing effect” of highly active NK cells | Recommendation of highly active NK cell therapy