Universal donor immune cells

One of the latest attempts to boost the body's defenses against cancer is called adoptive cell transfer, in which patients receive a therapeutic injection of their own immune cells. This therapy, currently tested in early clinical trials for melanoma and neuroblastoma, has its limitations: Removing immune cells from a patient and growing them outside the body for future re-injection is extremely expensive and not always technically feasible.

Weizmann Institute scientists have now tested in mice a new form of adoptive cell transfer, which overcomes these limitations while enhancing the tumor-fighting ability of the transferred cells. The research, reported recently in Blood, was performed in the lab of Prof. Zelig Eshhar of the Institute's Immunology Department, by graduate student Assaf Marcus and lab technician Tova Waks.

The new approach should be more readily applicable than existing adoptive cell transfer treatments because it relies on a donor pool of immune T cells that can be prepared in advance, rather than on the patient's own cells. Moreover, using a method pioneered by Prof. Eshhar more than two decades ago, these T cells are outfitted with that specifically seek out and identify the tumor, thereby promoting its destruction.

In the study, the scientists first suppressed the of mice with a relatively mild dose of radiation. They then administered a controlled dose of the modified donor T cells. The mild suppression temporarily prevented the donor T cells from being rejected by the recipient, but it didn't prevent the cells themselves from attacking the recipient's body, particularly the tumor. This approach was precisely what rendered the therapy so effective: The delay in the rejection of the donor T cells gave these cells sufficient opportunity to destroy the tumor.

If this method works in humans as well as it did in mice, it could lead to an affordable cell transfer therapy for a wide variety of cancers. Such therapy would rely on an off-the-shelf pool of donor equipped with receptors for zeroing in on different types of cancerous cells.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists create new cloning method

Oct 04, 2006

U.S. scientists say they have achieved a one-step somatic cell nuclear transfer procedure using a differentiated cell as a nuclear donor.

Stem cell breakthrough: Bone marrow cells are the answer

Jan 28, 2010

Using cells from mice, scientists from Iowa and Iran have discovered a new strategy for making embryonic stem cell transplants less likely to be rejected by a recipient's immune system. This strategy, described in a new research ...

Drug/radiation combo may help shrink established tumors

Aug 25, 2008

Researchers may be closer to understanding why anti-cancer drugs such as Ipilimumab, which boost the tumor-killing power of immune cells, haven't fared well in clinical trials. The new study, which describes a way to enhance ...

Recommended for you

Scientists image a beating heart in 3D (w/ Video)

1 hour ago

Researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden report how they managed to capture detailed three-dimensional images of cardiac dynamics in zebrafish. The novel approach: ...

New device to monitor lung function in space

1 hour ago

A new method of collecting blood from the ear, currently part of an interactive exhibition at the Science Museum, could be used to monitor lung function in space. Less invasive, faster and more accurate than current methods, ...

Primate research center plays key role in HIV study in Nature

1 hour ago

In a study reported in Nature this month, Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers were key in determining that treating SIV-infected rhesus macaques with type 1 interferon, a protein known to trigger antiviral respon ...

Three-people IVF debate process on the move in UK

4 hours ago

Takes two to make a child, correct? No. maybe. The use of sperm and eggs from three people to create babies moved a step closer in the UK, with Tuesday's events. What kind of egg-sperm distribution are we talking about? The ...

User comments