Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a neoplastic process characterized by its aggressive nature and limited treatment options. Too many AML patients are unable to achieve long-term remission with current therapies, fueling the search for novel strategies. CAR-NK cells offer a compelling solution, leveraging the innate cytotoxicity of NK cells augmented with engineered chimeric antigen receptors to target cancer cells with precision and potency.

The road to realizing the therapeutic potential of CAR-NK cells is fraught with challenges, chief among them being the labor-intensive and time-consuming process of cell manufacturing. However, recent strides in automation technology, showcase potential alternatives to current common practices without loss of output quality.

A recently published study provides concrete data supporting the viability of automating the complex process of CAR-NK manufacturing. By harnessing immunomagnetic selection and lentiviral transduction techniques, researchers efficiently engineer NK cells from healthy donors to express CAR constructs targeting specific antigens present on AML cells. This streamlined process not only expedites cell production but also ensures consistency and scalability, essential prerequisites for clinical translation.

Preliminary findings from preclinical research underscore the efficacy of automated CAR-NK cells in targeting AML cells both in vitro and in vivo. Critically, these engineered cells exhibit comparable functionality to manually produced counterparts, demonstrating their potential as a viable therapeutic option. Furthermore, the automated manufacturing process enables the generation of high cell yields, paving the way for widespread clinical adoption.

The implications of automated CAR-NK cell production extend beyond AML therapy, holding promise for the manufacture of therapies against other malignancies. The standardized and reproducible nature of automated manufacturing opens doors to personalized medicine and off-the-shelf cellular therapies. As technology continues to evolve, so too does the landscape of cancer treatment, offering renewed hope to patients and clinicians.

Automation has the potential to change the game entirely whenever there is the potential to safely employ it in complex, laborious laboratory processes. Prohibitively expensive or time-consuming tasks can suddenly scale to viability. Automating CAR-NK cell production may be one of those leaps. Further study will hopefully underscore the feasibility of widescale adoption of this approach, hopefully lowering costs and accelerating the arrival of ever more powerful therapeutic options to employ against cancers.


Albinger, N., Müller, S., Kostyra, J., et al. (2024). Manufacturing of primary CAR-NK cells in an automated system for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Bone Marrow Transplantation, 1-7.