A team of scientists in Japan have completed a study that shows how stem cell technology could one day be used to rejuvenate immune cells into better fighting diseases like cancer and HIV. With a report published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a team that included University of Tokyo’s Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi explained how old immune T-cells were regenerated into T-cells that had longer lifespans and could multiply in greater numbers, thus having a greater ability to target diseased cells.
The researchers hope their findings could one day lead to immune therapies that are more effective against viral infections or cancer. In one of their studies, the team took matured T-cells from a patient with HIV, and transformed them into pluripotent stem cells, a type of stem cell that known for its ability to adapt and turn into almost any kind of cell within the body. The second study involved the same process, but starting with T-cells from a patient with the skin cancer melanoma. In both cases, the pluripotent stem cells were able to become younger, stronger T-cells.
Simply put, the scientists say these transformed immune cells were a large improvement over their previous form. The T-cells from the HIV patient had an unlimited lifespan, while those from the patient with melanoma were able to better recognize the cancer’s manifestation. Dr. Hiroshi Kawamoto, of the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology in Yokohama, writes that their goal is to see if the rejuvenated T-cells are able to selectively fight and kill tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. If this were to be recognized in the near future, it could lead to much better disease treatments.
[via Doctor’s Lounge]