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Center for Advanced Innate Cell Therapy

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CAR-GD2 NKT Cells

The Center for Advanced Innate Cell Therapy (AICT) is a component of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. The AICT was established in 2021 with the overarching goal of developing safe and effective therapies for childhood cancer using natural and engineered properties of the immune system.

Within the AICT, multidisciplinary teams of basic, translational, and clinical investigators work collaboratively toward this goal.

Ongoing research projects include:

  • identification of new molecular targets for cancer therapy in tumor and tumor-supportive cells,
  • studying unconventional immune effector cells that target malignant cells, and
  • employing state-of-the-art technologies to engineer therapeutic cells that selectively destroy tumor cells while sparing healthy tissues.  

Photo caption
Vα24-invariant Natural Killer T cells engineered to express Chimeric Antigen Receptor against the GD2 ganglioside effectively localize to the tumor site and kill tumor cells in a humanized mouse model of neuroblastoma.


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Director

Leonid S. Metelitsa, MD, PhD
Dr. Leonid Metelitsa’s research focuses on understanding the role of Vα24-invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells in tumor immunity and translating this knowledge into NKT cell-based cancer immunotherapies. His group was the first to demonstrate that NKT cells localize to primary tumors in human patients and that presence of these cells at the tumor site is associated with favorable outcomes in the clinic (Metelitsa et al., JEM, 2004).