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New Immune Cell Discovery: Potential to Attack and Eliminate Cancer and COVID

DALL·E 2024 01 15 22.59.02 A depiction of a research laboratory showcasing scientists working on expanding and studying ILC2 cells. The scene should include researchers in lab

Groundbreaking Research Unveils Powerful ILC2 Cells

New York: Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in immunotherapy by discovering a type of immune cell, known as human type-2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), that can directly attack and eliminate cancer and combat viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. This finding, detailed in the journal Cell, marks a promising advance in medical science.

The Capabilities of ILC2s

ILC2s, rare in the human body and found in the lungs, gut, and skin, have previously been known for their role in allergy and other immune responses. The new study reveals that these

cells can be expanded outside the body and applied in large numbers to overpower a tumor’s defenses, effectively eliminating malignant cells in mouse models with cancer. This discovery opens up possibilities for new types of immunotherapy treatments.

A New Direction in Cancer Treatment

Researchers at the City of Hope in California, led by Professor Jianhua Yu, have identified ILC2s as capable of directly killing various types of cancers, including blood cancers and solid tumors. This capability positions them as a potential new tool in the battle against cancer.

The Advantages of ILC2s

One key advantage of ILC2s is their potential for use as an ‘off-the-shelf’ product. Unlike T cell-based therapies like CAR T-cells, which require the patient’s own cells, ILC2s could be sourced from healthy donors. This makes them an accessible treatment option, offering a new therapeutic approach.

Testing and Expansion of ILC2s

To test their effectiveness, the team first isolated the cells from a blood sample and developed a platform that can expand ILC2s harvested from the body 2,000-fold within four weeks. When injected into mice with human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or solid tumors, these expanded ILC2s demonstrated their ability to kill the tumors through a previously unknown cancer-killing mechanism.

Potential Beyond Cancer Treatment

The research also indicates that ILC2s might be effective against viruses, such as COVID-19. This broadens their potential application, offering hope in various medical scenarios.


The discovery of ILC2s’ ability to attack and eliminate cancer and combat COVID-19 marks a significant advancement in immunotherapy. It opens up new pathways for treating these diseases, potentially revolutionizing the approach to cancer and viral infections.

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