Revolutionary Immunotherapy Trial “TiNKS”, Helping Relapsed or Refractory Sarcoma Patients, Receives Additional $1.1 million for NK Cell Production

TAMPA, Florida, April 15, 2024: The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation® (NPCF™) has awarded a $1.1 million supplemental grant to fund the production of NK cells for the multiple institutions participating in the TiNKS trial.

The TiNKS trial is testing the safety and efficacy of a novel cell therapy, referred to as “universal donor TGF-beta-imprinted NK cells”, for their use in pediatric and young adult patients with sarcoma. This approach represents several important advances in cellular therapy. First, it selects healthy donors with predictors of high NK cell function as the starting material for the NK cell product (the “universal donors”). Second, the cells are grown in a way that gives them several added advantages in finding and acting against sarcomas. Third, they are manufactured ahead of time and stored as frozen products, enabling an off-the-shelf therapy that is ready when it is needed and can be distributed for treatment at multiple institutions.

However, the product is not available as a commercially manufactured product. NPCF collaborated with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to manufacture and deliver the initial30 doses of cells to the first 7 patients on this trial, demonstrating safety and feasibility. NPCF has now committed to funding the cell manufacturing needed to treat the remaining 43 patients on the study, which is designed to evaluate the efficacy of these cells for pediatric sarcomas.

“As there is no commercial supplier to manufacture the cells, continued development of this therapy for children rests on academic and philanthropic support to make this research happen”, said Dr. Dean Lee.

The TINKS trial is led by Bhuvana Setty, MD from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the cell production for the trial is led by Dean Lee, MD PhD at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Both researchers are part of the leadership team with NPCF’s Sunshine Project Consortium.

About National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer through the Sunshine Project, the Foundation’s collaborative research initiative. By partnering with doctors and researchers from the country’s top institutions, the Sunshine Project is fast-tracking the development of new drugs and therapies that will ultimately lead to the cure of childhood cancers. The NPCF has received a perfect 100% score for financial health and transparency and is recognized as the top-rated cancer charity in the U.S. by Charity Navigator. For more information, visit or connect via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Individuals can also directly donate to the cause through the website.

Please consider making a donation today!

Your donation helps fund better treatments specifically for kids battling cancer.