Fighting Cancer with Off-the-Shelf iPSC Immunotherapies

In June 2016 we hosted an educational session at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) annual conference titled, “Fighting Cancer with Off-the-Shelf iPSC Immunotherapies”. This conference is widely regarded as the preeminent meeting for the latest scientific advances and therapeutic breakthroughs in stem cell therapy research and development. The session included presentations from globally-recognized leaders in the fields of iPSCs and cellular immunotherapies and included a comprehensive overview of Fate’s development of genetically engineered, off-the-shelf, iPSC-derived NK- and T-cell immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.

Provided below is a summary of these sessions, along with links to each of the presentations:


Dan Shoemaker, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer,
Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Program Introduction: Fighting Cancer with Off-the-Shelf iPSC Immunotherapies

Dr. Shoemaker opened the session by discussing the tremendous promise of cell-based therapeutics in the fight against cancer, particularly as demonstrated by clinical successes in the CAR-T space over the past few years. He also described the many hurdles inherent in developing patient-specific therapies beyond early clinical proof of concept studies, and how an iPSC-driven strategy represents an ideal solution to overcoming these challenges and limitations, and may facilitate the development of effective and consistent “off-the-shelf” products.

Rudolf Jaenisch, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Biology, MIT Member, Whitehead Institute Member, Institute of Medicine

Better Cells for Better Therapies: Basic Biology & Genomic Engineering of Human iPSCs

Dr. Jaenisch presented a historical perspective on the origins of iPSC biology, reviewed advances in iPSC technology over the past decade, and highlighted the seminal role iPSCs will play in the future of medicine – particularly when combined with genetic engineering. Dr. Jaenisch underscored the importance of iPSCs to the future of medicine in furthering our understanding of complex diseases and in developing intelligent cell-based therapeutic solutions for those diseases.

Bob Valamehr, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Reprogramming Biology Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Harnessing Hematopoiesis: Creating the Ideal Platform for Large-Scale Expansion of iPSC-Derived, Engineered Hematopoietic Cells

Dr. Valamehr presented Fate Therapeutics’ proprietary iPSC platform, which is designed for the consistent and scalable generation of iPSCs for off-the-shelf therapeutic use. He also reviewed Fate’s proprietary technology for the highly efficient differentiation of genetically-engineered iPSCs into cells of the hematopoietic lineage, including Natural Killer (NK) and T cell-based immunotherapy product candidates.

Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Medicine and Director of Cell Therapy Program University of California-San Diego

iPSC Derived NKs: Targeting Cancer with an Engineered, iPSC-Derived NK Cell

Dr. Kaufman presented the features and advantages of iPSC-derived NK cells versus NK cells derived from alternative sources. He also demonstrates the ability of these cells to eliminate both liquid and solid tumors without causing Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), and reviewed approaches for enhancing the potency of NK cells against tumors through genetic engineering of various targeting modalities.

Michel Sadelain, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Cell Engineering Incumbent of the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

iPSC Derived CAR-Ts: Targeting Cancer with an Engineered, iPSC-Derived T Cell

Dr. Sadelain presented an overview of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor-modified T cell therapeutic strategies, including a history on the evolution of CAR-based strategies over the past two decades. He highlighted the clinical promise of this therapeutic approach, reviewed the challenges and limitations of current autologous approaches, and described the therapeutic advantages and potential strategies for generating “off-the-shelf” iPSC-derived T-cell therapies.

Dan Shoemaker, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer,
Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Closing Remarks

Dr. Shoemaker concluded the session by reviewing the topline themes from each of the speakers’ presentation, and summarized their collective relevance in driving future developments of next-generation cellular immunotherapies in the fight against cancer.