Stem cell approach primes immune system to fight cancer
Human iPS cells (left) are coaxed to form dendritic cells (right) that could combat cancer.
(Medical Xpress) -- Stem cell techniques have been used in the lab as a new way of priming the bodys own immune cells to attack cancer, in a proof-of-principle study by Oxford University scientists.
The technical advance opens up the possibility of using stem cells derived from a patients skin as a source of key immune cells, called dendritic cells, which can orchestrate an immune response against a tumour. But much further work would be needed to turn this into a therapy ready to be used with cancer patients.
"The patient would in effect be treated with their own immune cells to prime an attack on their tumour, but those cells would have been derived from a biopsy of their skin," explains Dr. Paul Fairchild of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University, who led the work.
The Oxford researchers used recently established techniques to turn skin cells from a healthy adult back into a stem cell state. These induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are capable of renewing themselves indefinitely and can be coaxed to form any cell type muscle, nerve, heart tissue, etc.
Dr. Paul Fairchild and Dr. Kate Silk prompted the human iPS cells to form dendritic cells using an approach that would be suitable for clinical use. That is, no animal-based material or supplements to aid growth were used.
After providing the dendritic cells with components of a melanoma, the team showed the cells could initiate a full immune response to melanoma markers in cell cultures in the lab.
The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the Oxford Martin School, and is published in the journal Gene Therapy.
"Weve worked out how to generate the particular dendritic cells that are necessary to get a good immune response against tumors," says Dr. Fairchild, who is also co-director of the Oxford Stem Cell Institute at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.
"We think it is a significant step forward to produce these cells and show they can generate an immune response under culture conditions in the lab. But its important not to underestimate the difficulty in getting to a point where we could consider using the cells as a therapy against cancer in patients."
Dendritic cells are important parts of the immune system. They orchestrate and control the bodys immune response to foreign bacteria and pathogens. Dendritic cells do this by taking up components of the pathogen, or antigens, and presenting them to other parts of the immune system to teach them what to seek out and destroy like a policeman giving a bloodhound a scent to track down.
Dendritic cells can also set off potent immune responses against cancer, by taking up antigens associated with the tumor.
Clinical trials have been conducted previously in which dendritic cells have been taken from a cancer patients blood. The dendritic cells are then presented with antigens to prime them for an attack on the patients tumor, before introducing the immune cells back into the patient.
Results using this type of cancer immunotherapy have been mixed, though occasionally startlingly good, says Dr. Fairchild. He suggests that this variability could be because blood cells are taken from patients who have often had several rounds of chemotherapy, affecting the bone marrow where blood cells are made. There also appears to be large variation between patients in their dendritic cells, and so in the effectiveness of this therapy.
But most importantly, the dendritic cells isolated from patients blood are not able to fire up both arms of the immune system to fight the tumor they only produce antibodies rather than activating T cells. It is the T cells seeking out and destroying the cancer cells that is crucial for a potent anti-tumour response.
Only a subset of dendritic cells, present in trace amounts in the blood, can stimulate both an antibody and a T cell immune response.
Dr. Fairchild and his team believe that the stem cell techniques they have developed could overcome all these problems.
By working from the patients skin cells, it is possible to by-pass many of the effects of chemotherapy. There would be less patient-to-patient variation in the effectiveness of the dendritic cells. The lab-grown cells would provide an ongoing source of immune cells for multiple rounds of the cell therapy.
And the Oxford researchers have shown their stem cell approach produces a population of dendritic cells capable of stimulating both an antibody and a T cell immune response.
"For the first time, we now have a good experimental model for investigating these important dendritic cells that are normally only present in trace amounts," says Dr. Fairchild.
"While weve developed protocols to make dendritic cells in a way thats suitable for medical use, any clinical trials would be a long way off," cautions Dr. Fairchild.
He adds: "We would envisage that any future immune cell therapy based on this approach would be used with patients where other treatments have failed, where there is no other way to go."
Provided by Oxford University
- Skin sentry cells promote distinct immune responses Jul 21, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- 'Super' enzyme may lead way to better tumor vaccines Dec 04, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- How excess alcohol depresses immune function Aug 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Immune cells reveal fancy footwork Dec 01, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Dendritic cells stimulate cancer-cell growth Nov 17, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
Genetics 6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Can human genes be patented? That was the question posed by Alan J. Snyder, vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies at Lehigh, and Lee Kaplan, scientific director of cellular and molecular genetics ...
Genetics 13 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have led the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.
Genetics May 22, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University's Brain Tumor Program, have developed a new mouse model of malignant peripheral ...
Genetics May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 1 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Kate O'Reilly's spring allergy survival kit includes the usual stuff - nasal sprays, allergy pills and a box of tissues. This season, she's added a new weapon to her line of defense: an app on her smartphone.
7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0