Natural killer cells found to be effective in killing cells infected with new coronavirus

By Lim Chang-won Posted : August 18, 2020, 13:48 Updated : August 18, 2020, 13:48

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- Natural killer cells were confirmed to be effective in killing cells infected with a new coronavirus in a study conducted by GC Labcell, a manufacturer of cell therapy products in South Korea, which promotes its natural killer (NK) cell treatment as next-generation immuno-oncology.

For its joint study with a research team at Chungbuk National University College of Medicine, GC Labcell said in a statement that it has reacted NK cells to cells infected with the coronavirus and those not infected to check their efficacy. NK cells, which are innate immune cells, attack cancer cells or viruses.

NK cells were found to be seven to eight times more active than a comparison group in virus-infected cells, GC Labcell said, adding the secretion of IFN-g (interferon-gamma), a key indicator of immunity assessment, also increased by about 1.5 times. The study means that NK cells directly or indirectly induce the apoptosis of cells infected with the coronavirus

"This study has proven multiple effects, including anti-cancer effects in NK cells as well as antiviral efficacy," said GC Labcell's cell therapy research center head Hwang Yu-kyung. "We will pursue global clinical trials by accumulating meaningful pre-clinical data through follow-up research."

GC Labcell said its NK cell treatment, MG4101, can be used without any side effects to patients because of its high purity. In collaboration with KLEO Pharmaceuticals, a US biotech company, GC Labcell is developing a complex treatment that uses an antibody-inducing substance to curb the spread of COVID-19 and remove infected cells with NK cells.
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