Pre-Conference Bootcamp

Advancing the Understanding of Fundamental NK Cell Biology Bootcamp

Monday, August 24

10:00 - 2:30 EDT | 7:00 - 11:30 PDT

10:00 am Human NK Cell Differentiation & Migration

  • Emily Mace Assistant Proffesor, Columbia University in the City of New York


  • Exploring the role of cell migration in NK cell development
  • Understanding the regulation of adhesion and cell migration in human NK cells
  • Understanding links between cell migration and lytic function

10:30 am NK Cell Education – the Writing on the (Cell) Wall


  • Concept: NK cell education, the basis for missing self-recognition
  • Mechanisms: Recent insights into the molecular basis for NK cell education
  • Implications: Harnessing education in NK-cell based cancer immunotherapy

Examining the Mechanisms of NK Cell-mediated Cytotoxicity

11:00 am Ontogeny is a Key Determinant to the Function of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Natural Killer Cells


  • NK cell potential arises from erythro-myeloid progenitors (EMPs) in the yolk sac
  • EMP-derived NK cells have a potent degranulation response
  • hPSC differentiation yields 2 distinct CD34+ populations, each with NK cell
  • hPSC-derived EMP-like NK cells are more potently cytotoxic than adult CD16+ NK

11:30 am Insights into the Cytotoxic Mechanisms of NK Cells During Serial Killing


  • Highlighting how NK cells switch their killing mechanism from Granzyme to death receptor mediated cytotoxicity during serial killing
  • Deliberating why Granzyme-mediated cytotoxicity is the only mechanism that allows for serial killing
  • Outlining that NK cells become exhausted but don’t die after serial killing
  • Discussing why detachment from target cells is an important step in serial killing and is regulated by the death of the target cell

12:00 pm Virtual Speed Networking & Lunch Break

1:00 pm Microchip Platform for Imaging-based Efficacy Testing of Cells & Reagents for Immunotherapy


• A microchip platform for live-cell imaging of thousands of individual cells within larger populations and show how we use it to assess heterogeneity in cytotoxic response and serial killing by NK cells
• A microchip platform for generating tumor spheroids for studies of the tumor microenvironment and how NK attack solid tumors
• Examples of how these platforms have been utilized to get mechanistic understanding of the cytotoxic process during NK serial killing, how NK cells respond to changes in the tumor microenvironment and to test efficacy of drugs for immuno-oncology

Discovering Alternative Avenues for Cell Therapies

1:30 pm The Sweet Side of Immune Evasion


  • Assessing how aberrant glycosylation is a recognised hallmark of cancer with increased cell surface expression of sialic acid (hypersialylation) and seeing aberrant glycosylation as a common feature
  • Associating hypersialylation with increased risk of disease progression and poor survival in numerous cancers, including Multiple Myeloma. In addition to influencing homing, cell trafficking and drug resistance, hypersialylation enables immune evasion, in part via engagement of sialic acid binding, inhibitory  checkpoint like receptors called Siglecs, which are present on immune cells, such as macrophages, activated T cells and NK cells
  • Reviewing our current understanding of the role of sialylation within the immune microenvironment, including potential strategies to overcome sialylation induced immune evasion, leading to enhancement of both innate and adaptive immune responses

2:00 pm Distinct Effects of Cannabinoids on Differentiated vs. Cancer Stem Cells; Role in Natural Killer Cell Activation


  • Differential underlying mechanisms of NK cell targeting of well-differentiated vs. Poorly differentiated tumors/Cancer Stem Cells
  • Differential effect of Cannabinoids on differentiated vs. Cancer stem cells
  • Effect of Cannabinoids in vivo on patients’ Natural Killer cells and its potential relationship with survival
  • Effect of Cannabinoids on NK cells in vivo in humanized mouse model
  • Potential mechanisms of NK cell activation by Cannabinoids

2:30 pm End of Bootcamp Day