INKT (Invariant natural killer T cells) as a COVID-19 therapy

In summary, iNKT cells are a type of T cell that expresses an invariant aβ T-cell receptor and shares characteristics with natural killer cells. They make up a small percentage of peripheral blood mononuclear cells but play an important role in immune regulation by producing cytokines. Human iNKT cells can be divided into three subpopulations with different functions. A recent announcement by AgenusBio states that the FDA has cleared the use of AGENT-797, an iNKT cell therapy, for COVID-19 and cancer patients. This therapy has shown promising results in severely ill COVID-19 patients, with three out of four responding positively. It is believed that @Ygggdrasil is the best person to provide further
  • #1
Andrew Mason
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I would be interested in hearing from the experts such as @Ygggdrasil about the prospects for a new therapy for COVID-19 using iNKT cells. According to this information page from the British Society for Immunology site:

British Society for Immunology said:
Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, also known as type I or classical NKT cells, are a distinct population of T cells that express an invariant aβ T-cell receptor (TCR) and a number of cell surface molecules in common with natural killer (NK) cells. Although iNKT cells are rare in the human blood pool, comprising just 0.01-1% of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), they are important immunoregulatory cells rapidly producing large amounts of cytokines that can influence other immune cells.
Functionally, human iNKT cells can be divided into three subpopulations, which are either CD4+, CD8+ or CD4- CD8- (DN). In vitro studies have shown that CD4+ iNKT cells tend to produce both Th1 and Th2-type cytokines and may have a more immunoregulatory role, while CD8+ and DN iNKT cells appear more Th1-like in response and have a stronger cytolytic ability. iNKT cell-derived cytokines and chemokines can modulate several other cell types, including NK cells, conventional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, macrophages, neutrophils and B cells as well as recruiting and activating dendritic cells.

My interest was piqued by a recent announcement by AgenusBio (Agenus Inc. and its subsidiary AgenTus Therapeutics) that "The FDA has cleared the IND for AGENT-797 for use in patients with COVID-19 and cancer. AgenTus is advancing iNKT cell therapy to the clinic for these diseases".

Apparently, iNKT therapy has been used very successfully on at least 4 severely ill COVID19 patients, three of whom responded very positively and quickly.

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  • #2
I am right in thinking that Ygggdrasil is the best person to answer this question. If so, I would appreciate hearing more about their thoughts on the prospects of iNKT therapy for COVID-19.

Related to INKT (Invariant natural killer T cells) as a COVID-19 therapy

1. What are INKT cells and how do they work?

INKT cells, also known as invariant natural killer T cells, are a type of immune cell that play a critical role in the body's defense against infections and diseases. They are a specialized type of T cell that can recognize and respond to a wide range of foreign invaders, including viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. INKT cells work by releasing cytokines, which are signaling molecules that activate other immune cells to fight off the infection.

2. How can INKT cells be used as a therapy for COVID-19?

Recent studies have shown that INKT cells may be effective in treating COVID-19. These cells have the ability to recognize and respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and can potentially help to reduce the severity of the disease. INKT cells can also regulate the immune response, preventing it from becoming too aggressive and causing damage to the body's own tissues.

3. What evidence supports the use of INKT cells as a COVID-19 therapy?

Several studies have shown promising results in using INKT cells as a therapy for COVID-19. In one study, researchers found that patients with severe COVID-19 had significantly lower levels of INKT cells compared to healthy individuals. Additionally, a clinical trial using INKT cells to treat severe COVID-19 patients showed promising results, with improved clinical outcomes and a decrease in inflammatory markers.

4. Are there any potential risks or side effects associated with using INKT cells as a COVID-19 therapy?

As with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects associated with using INKT cells as a COVID-19 therapy. Some potential risks include an allergic reaction to the cells, and the possibility of the cells causing an excessive immune response. However, these risks can be minimized through careful screening and monitoring of patients.

5. What is the current status of using INKT cells as a COVID-19 therapy?

While there is still ongoing research and clinical trials being conducted, the use of INKT cells as a COVID-19 therapy is showing promising results. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the potential of INKT cells and their safety and effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19. It is important to continue following public health guidelines and getting vaccinated to prevent the spread of the virus.

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