Researchers at UCLA have developed a ‘bionic thymus’ capable of transforming blood stem cells into T cells of the immune system that can be targeted to attack cancer cells. During the transformation, the researchers were also able to incorporate a tumor-targeting gene in anticipation of utilizing the cells to fight cancers. T Cell production is a long and complex biological process in the body and many cancer patients may not have enough of their own T cells to collect and direct to combat their cancer. Therefore, the creation of an artificial thymus has the potential to resolve this issue. The process also shuts off the expression of normal T cell surface receptors, which the researchers believe may enable the cells to be used by other patients without the risk of rejection.
“T cells are the key players that fight infections and cancer, and in the past few years there’s been huge interest — and success — in taking T cells from cancer patients and genetically engineering them to target their cancer,” says Dr. Christopher Seet, professor of Hematology-Oncology at UCLA. He also added, “We’re excited that this method potentially shows a way to make ‘off-the-shelf’ T cell therapies for cancer that can be given to anyone who needs them.”
With clinical trials soon underway, the successful utilization of stem cells should accelerate stem cell applications to treat a wide variety of cancers. By banking their own valuable stem cells, families can ensure that they will have access to these emerging therapies in the near future. To learn more about banking stem cells, please visit StemSave or call 877-783- 6728 (877-StemSave) today.
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