Nicotinamide-Expanded Allogeneic Natural Killer Cells with CD38 Deletion, Expressing an Enhanced CD38 Chimeric Antigen Receptor, Target Multiple Myeloma Cells

Avishay Edri, Nimrod Ben-Haim, Astar Hailu, Nurit Brycman, Orit Berhani-Zipori, Julia Rifman, Sherri Cohen, Dima Yackoubov, Michael Rosenberg, Ronit Simantov, Hideshima Teru, Keiji Kurata, Kenneth Carl Anderson, Ayal Hendel, Aviad Pato, Yona Geffen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural killer (NK) cells are a vital component of cancer immune surveillance. They provide a rapid and potent immune response, including direct cytotoxicity and mobilization of the immune system, without the need for antigen processing and presentation. NK cells may also be better tolerated than T cell therapy approaches and are susceptible to various gene manipulations. Therefore, NK cells have become the focus of extensive translational research. Gamida Cell’s nicotinamide (NAM) platform for cultured NK cells provides an opportunity to enhance the therapeutic potential of NK cells. CD38 is an ectoenzyme ubiquitously expressed on the surface of various hematologic cells, including multiple myeloma (MM). It has been selected as a lead target for numerous monoclonal therapeutic antibodies against MM. Monoclonal antibodies target CD38, resulting in the lysis of MM plasma cells through various antibody-mediated mechanisms such as antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), complement-dependent cytotoxicity, and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis, significantly improving the outcomes of patients with relapsed or refractory MM. However, this therapeutic strategy has inherent limitations, such as the anti-CD38-induced depletion of CD38-expressing NK cells, thus hindering ADCC. We have developed genetically engineered NK cells tailored to treat MM, in which CD38 was knocked-out using CRISPR-Cas9 technology and an enhanced chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting CD38 was introduced using mRNA electroporation. This combined genetic approach allows for an improved cytotoxic activity directed against CD38-expressing MM cells without self-inflicted NK-cell-mediated fratricide. Preliminary results show near-complete abolition of fratricide with a 24-fold reduction in self-lysis from 19% in mock-transfected and untreated NK cells to 0.8% of self-lysis in CD38 knock-out CAR NK cells. Furthermore, we have observed significant enhancements in CD38-mediated activity in vitro, resulting in increased lysis of MM target cell lines. CD38 knock-out CAR NK cells also demonstrated significantly higher levels of NK activation markers in co-cultures with both untreated and αCD38-treated MM cell lines. These NAM-cultured NK cells with the combined genetic approach of CD38 knockout and addition of CD38 CAR represent a promising immunotherapeutic tool to target MM.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number17231
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • CD38
  • NAM platform
  • cell therapy
  • chimeric antigen receptor
  • fratricide
  • immunotherapy
  • multiple myeloma
  • natural killer cell

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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