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.
Researchers from Imperial College London, led by Dr. Paolo Muraro, have refined a stem cell treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS); using the patient’s own stem cells to reset the immune system and “freeze” the disease. MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers thereby causing communication disruptions between the brain and the rest of the body. The treatment works by first recovering healthy stem cells from the patient and then, using high-dose chemotherapy to kill the remaining damaged immune cells. Reintroducing the recovered stem cells into the patient’s body reboots the immune system and halts the disease.