Universal donor immune cells

July 25, 2011

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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Crystal clear images uncover secrets of hormone receptors

July 31, 2015

Many hormones and neurotransmitters work by binding to receptors on a cell's exterior surface. This activates receptors causing them to twist, turn and spark chemical reactions inside cells. NIH scientists used atomic level ...

A cheaper, high-performance prosthetic knee

July 30, 2015

In the last two decades, prosthetic limb technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the most advanced prostheses incorporate microprocessors that work with onboard gyroscopes, accelerometers, and hydraulics to enable ...

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

July 27, 2015

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.