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Tethered Interleukin-15 (IL-15)/IL-21 to Enhance T Cells for Cellular Therapy

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Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a method to improve the function of therapeutic engineered T cells used for Adoptive T Cell Therapy (ACT) for various cancers and diseases through the co-expression of Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and IL-21 by a flexible linker to the cell membrane. Researchers at the NCI seek licensing for this invention.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • Interleukin-15, Il-15, Interleukin-21, IL-21, T Cells, Adoptive Cell Therapy, ACT, Chimeric Antigen Receptor, CAR, Cancer, Hinrichs
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing.
Description of Technology

Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and IL-21 have been reported to support the function of anti-tumor T cells.  However, their use in the clinic has been constrained, in part, by dose-limiting toxicity and the need for repeated administration.  To overcome these limitations, researchers in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch (ETIB) have developed synthetic IL-15 and IL-21 molecules for autocrine expression by the engineered therapeutic T cells. These molecules were designed with flexible linkers that connect to cell membrane anchors.  This, in turn, reduces systemic toxicity caused by free cytokine molecules. The inventors have shown that co-expression of the novel IL-15 and IL-21 tethered molecules improves the anti-tumor efficacy of the therapeutic engineered T cells in vivo. 

Potential Commercial Applications
  • Treatment of cancer patients receiving T cell-based immunotherapy 
Competitive Advantages
  • T cells that co-express the tethered IL-15 and IL-21 on their cell membrane can increase therapeutic effectiveness of adoptive immunotherapy because it can reduce systemic toxicity caused by free cytokine molecules
  • T cells that co-express the tethered IL-15 and IL-21 on their cell membrane are already known to have a greater decrease in tumor size compared to those mice treated with T cell-based immunotherapies using unmodified T cells 

Christian Hinrichs (NCI), Benjamin Jin (NCI)

Development Stage
Patent Status
  • U.S. Provisional: U.S. Provisional Patent Application Number 62/628,454 , Filed 09 Feb 2018
Therapeutic Area
Tuesday, March 23, 2021