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NK cell clinical production

Due to their inherent ability to destroy cancer cells, NK cells have showed potential as an immunotherapy in especially haematological cancers. Together with the clinicians, new NK cell immunotherapy option will be set up for high risk myeloid malignancies for Finnish patients.

​FRCBS Advanced Cell Therapy Centre  is responsible for setting up the manufacturing process for the clinical NK cell product, including quality control analyses and appropriate licenses.

Manufacturing process for the clinical NK cell product utilizes CliniMACS Prodigy® platform (Miltenyi Biotec) and includes an activation step of NK cells with cytokines. Resulting NK cell product will fulfil the criteria of an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) and the identity, activation and function of the clinical NK cells will be studied.


Docent Erja Kerkelä, PhD 

Erja received her MSc in biochemistry from the University of Oulu (1997) and PhD from the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine (2002). In 2013, she became docent in cell biology (University of Helsinki). 

After PhD studies in Prof. Ulpu Saarialho-Kere’s group she worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Juha Kere (Karolinska Institutet) studying genetics of pre-eclampsia and gene expression of human oocytes (2002– 2005). During 2005 – 2010 she was a senior researcher in the group of Prof. Katriina Aalto-Setälä (University of Tampere) studying cardiomyocytes derived from human pluripotent stem cells. In 2010, she started as a senior scientist in FRCBS R&D department and at the end of 2019 moved to Advanced Cell Therapy Centre of FRCBS to work as Development manager (and person responsible for QC).

 During her years in FRCBS she has carried out various projects related to stem cells, immune and blood cells and cell therapy. Currently she is the PI in NK cell project aiming at understanding the connection between genetic variation and function of NK cells. She is also responsible for setting up an experimental NK cell therapy for Finnish cancer patients together with the clinicians.

Anita Laitinen, PhD (clinical production)

Professor Kim Vettenranta, MD, PhD

Kim Vettenranta, MD, PhD, Professor of Cell Therapy and Transfusion Medicine at the University of Helsinki since IX/17. The co-PI (w docents Matti Korhonen and Erja Kerkelä) of the iCell project. Background in pediatrics with 30 years of clinical experience in pediatric hematology-oncology and stem cell transplantation. More than 150 peer-reviewed original papers with an h-index of 36 and i10 of 89 (Google Scholar III/21). 

Post-doc at the Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 1991-93 and sabbaticals thereafter at the University of Bristol, UK, and Johann-Wolfgang-von-Göthe Universität in Frankfurt, FRD. Member of the EBMT, EHA, ASH and COG. Three MD/PhD theses supervised and 5 ongoing. ORCID: