Revolutionary techniques could help harness patients' own immune cells to fight disease

January 3, 2013
Revolutionary techniques could help harness patients' own immune cells to fight disease
This is a microscopic photo of T-iPSCs in culture. Credit: Nishimura et al., Cell Stem Cell

The human body contains immune cells programmed to fight cancer and viral infections, but they often have short lifespans and are not numerous enough to overcome attacks by particularly aggressive malignancies or invasions.

Now researchers reporting in two separate papers in the January 4th issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell used stem cell technology to successfully regenerate patients' , creating large numbers that were long-lived and could recognize their specified targets: HIV-infected cells in one case and in the other. The findings could help in the development of strategies to rejuvenate patients' exhausted immune responses.

The techniques the groups employed involved using known factors to revert mature immune into induced (iPSCs), which can differentiate into virtually any of the body's different cell types. The researchers then expanded these iPSCs and later coaxed them to redifferentiate back into T cells. Importantly, the newly made T cells were "rejuvenated" with increased growth potential and lifespan, while retaining their original ability to target cancer and HIV-infected cells. These findings suggest that manipulating T cells using iPSC techniques could be useful for future development of more effective .

Revolutionary techniques could help harness patients' own immune cells to fight disease
These are rejuvenated T cells dedifferentiated from the T-iPSCs in the previous image. Although T-iPSCs and these T cells share the same genome, their morphology and function are totally different. Credit: Nishimura et al., Cell Stem Cell

In one study, investigators used T cells from an HIV-infected patient. The redifferentiated cells they generated had an unlimited lifespan and contained long telomeres, or caps, on the ends of their chromosomes, which protect cells from aging. This is significant because normal aging of T cells limits their expansion, making them inefficient as therapies. "The system we established provides 'young and active' T cells for against viral infection or cancers," says senior author Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, of the University of Tokyo.

Revolutionary techniques could help harness patients' own immune cells to fight disease
The human body contains immune cells programmed to fight cancer and viral infections, but they often have short lifespans and are not numerous enough to overcome attacks by particularly aggressive malignancies or invasions. Now researchers reporting in two separate papers in the Jan. 4 issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell used stem cell technology to successfully regenerate patients' immune cells, creating large numbers that were long-lived and could recognize their specified targets: HIV-infected cells in one case and cancer cells in the other. The findings could help in the development of strategies to rejuvenate patients' exhausted immune responses. Credit: Vizcardo et al., Cell Stem Cell

The other research team focused on T cells from a patient with . The redifferentiated cells they created recognized the protein MART-1, which is commonly expressed on melanoma tumors. "The next step we are going to do is examine whether these regenerated T cells can selectively kill tumor cells but not other healthy tissues. If such cells are developed, these cells might be directly applied to patients," says senior author Dr. Hiroshi Kawamoto, of the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology. "This could be realized in the not-so-distant future."

Explore further: Researchers find way to help donor adult blood stem cells overcome transplant rejection

More information: Nishimura et al.: "Generation of rejuvenated antigen-specific T cells by pluripotency reprogramming and redifferentiation." dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2012.11.002

Vizcardo et al.: "Regeneration of human tumor antigen-specific T cells from iPS cells derived from mature CD8+ T cells." dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2012.12.006

Related Stories

Stem cells, potential source of cancer-fighting T cells

September 20, 2011

Adult stem cells from mice converted to antigen-specific T cells -- the immune cells that fight cancer tumor cells -- show promise in cancer immunotherapy and may lead to a simpler, more efficient way to use the body's immune ...

Stem cell finding could advance immunotherapy for lung cancer

November 13, 2012

A University of Cincinnati (UC) Cancer Institute lung cancer research team reports that lung cancer stem cells can be isolated—and then grown—in a preclinical model, offering a new avenue for investigating immunotherapy ...

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

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.