(KARE/NBC News) A team of doctors and researchers at the University of Minnesota is getting resourceful in the fight against COVID-19, taking a novel immunotherapy designed to target cancer and re-purposing it to fight the novel coronavirus.
For years the university’s Masonic Cancer Center has been developing genetically modified “NK,” or natural killer cells, to target cancers like lymphoma.
Now they’re using them to target COVID-19.
“One of the things that we’ve learned throughout the natural killer cell literature is that NK cells not only can kill cancer, but they have antiviral properties,” Dr. Jeffrey Miller says.
That helped convince the FDA to approve the first-ever human trial using NK cells to fight the novel coronavirus.
For now, they’re starting with a small number of COVID patients at Bethesda Hospital who do not need of ventilator support, but even in this controlled environment there are considerable risks.
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