Novel checkpoints: NK cells emerge as key players in IO

Novel checkpoints: NK cells emerge as key players in IO

The opportunity

  • NK cells are key to an effective anti-tumour response in solid cancers
  • Ablating NK cell ‘checkpoints’ results in dramatic anti-tumour immune responses
  • Unique NK cell screening platforms have been developed to discover next generation immuno-oncology (IO) drugs

Blocking antibodies against programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) are rapidly becoming the standard of care for many advanced cancers. However, durable responses to these types of immuno-oncology drugs are still rare.

It has emerged that NK cells dictate the course of an immune response within solid cancers, therefore mechanisms that improve NK cell function and recruitment will be key to improving immunotherapy response rates. 

Scientific chart


The technology

NK cells recognise infected and transformed cells through a complex array of innate activating and inhibitory receptors.

The complex cellular ‘decisions’ that NK cells make upon encountering a tumour cell has been hitherto difficult to study at a systems level.

We have developed unique functional genomics screening approaches in primary NK cells to reveal their dominant activating, inhibitory and migratory mechanisms.  

Opportunities for partnership 

We are seeking a partner with extensive IO experience and looking to broaden their discovery portfolio into the NK cell space.

We have:

  • World-leading expertise in NK cell function and homeostasis
  • Cutting-edge functional genomics platform
  • Unique pre-clinical models

We are seeking:

  • A strategic partner to invest in this discovery-stage IO screening platform
  • Technical expertise in developing small molecule and/or biologic inhibitors

Scientific team

Associate Professor Nicholas Huntington, Laboratory Head, Molecular Immunology Division


Dr Anne-Laure Puaux, Head, Commercialisation

Phone: +61 3 9345 2175