Anti-Cancer Treatment that Induces Memory-like NK cells in vivo

STING-LNP + CpG-ODN induces memory-like NK cells in vivo to treat and prevent cancer.


  • A new cancer immunotherapy and cancer metastasis prevention method that induces in vivo memory-like NK cells that maintain longer-term effects than NK cells.

Background and Technology

NK cells are cells that control innate immunity, and because they have high cytotoxicity and cytokine production ability, they are being researched and developed as targets for cancer immunotherapy. On the other hand, NK cells were short-lived and were thought to exhibit antigen-independent cytotoxicity. Recently, it has been reported that NK cells with antigen-specific memory, i.e., memory NK cells, exist, and it has also been reported that memory-like NK cells can be induced in vitro, which has attracted attention. However, there is no known method to induce memory-like NK cells in vivo.

We have reported that LNPs (lipid nanoparticles) loaded with STING (stimulator of interferon genes) agonist, an innate immune sensor essential for initiating cancer immune responses, activate NK cells in vivo 1)2). This time, we have discovered for the first time in the world that memory-like NK cells (CD11bhigh CD27low) can be induced in vivo by co-administering CpG-ODN, a TLR9 (Toll-like receptor 9) agonist (upper figure). Furthermore, we demonstrated that combined administration of STING-LNP + CpG-ODN prevents melanoma metastasis to the lungs through the induction of memory-like NK cells (lower figure).


Principal Investigator

Takashi MAKAMURA (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University)

Current Stage and Next Step

  • Animal experiments have demonstrated that STING-LNP + CpG-ODN preventively suppresses melanoma metastasis to the lungs through the induction of memory-like NK cells.
  • We are looking for partner companies for the preclinical and clinical development of STING- LNP + CpG-ODN as a cancer treatment and metastasis inhibitor.


Project No. BK-04841



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