BACKGROUND: In the setting of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT), infusing natural killer (NK) cells from a major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-mismatched donor can mediate an antileukemic effect. The graft-versus-tumor effect after autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) may result in less disease relapse.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We performed a Phase I clinical trial to assess the safety and feasibility of infusing distantly processed donor NK-enriched mononuclear cell (NK-MNC) infusions from a MHC haplotype–mismatched (haploidentical) donor to patients who recently underwent ASCT for a hematologic malignancy. On Day 1, peripheral blood MNCs were obtained by steady-state leukapheresis and sent from Boston to the Production Assistance for Cellular Therapies (PACT) facility at the University of Minnesota, where immunomagnetic depletion of CD3 cells was performed on Day 2. NK-MNC products were then returned to Boston on Day 2 for infusion on Day 3. Toxicity, cellular product characteristics, and logistic events were monitored.
RESULTS: At a median of 90 days (range, 49-191 days) after ASCT, 13 patients were treated with escalating doses of NK-MNCs per kilogram from 105 to 2 × 107. Adverse effects included Grade 2 rigors and muscle aches, but no Grade 3 or 4 events and no graft-versus-host disease or marrow suppression. One air courier delay occurred. NK-MNC products were viable with cytotoxic activity after transport.
CONCLUSION: CD3-depleted, MHC-mismatched allogeneic NK-MNC infusions can be safely and feasibly administered to patients after ASCT after distant processing and transport, justifying further development of this approach.