Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93929

Immune cells to target cancer created from stem cells

7 January 2013
Appeared in BioNews 687

Immune cells that can recognise and kill cancer cells have been grown from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Although any clinical application would likely be decades away, the achievement may provide the basis for a future cell-based cancer therapy.

The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, focused on white blood cells called cytotoxic, or 'killer', T-cells. The scientists, from the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology in Japan took these killer T-cells, specialised against a type of cancer, and reprogrammed them to produce iPSCs in the laboratory.

The iPSCs were then stimulated to produce many more killer T-cells, specific for the same type of cancer. The work marks an important technical breakthrough as cells produced in this way previously had had short life spans and were therefore of limited use.

Killer T-cells recognise infectious or cancerous cells in the body, according to the markers present on the surface of the cell. Having identified a foreign cell, they then mount an attack to remove it. These cells are present in the body normally but often in numbers too low to overcome the cancer. It is hoped that boosting killer T-cell numbers may tip the balance in the patient's favour.

Dr Hiroshi Kawamoto, who led the research said: 'This strategy may solve the problem which the current immunotherapy strategies are facing, and thus would make a major breakthrough in cancer therapy'.

But the research so far has only shown that these cells can be made in the laboratory. It remains to be seen whether they would be effective clinically.

Dr Emma Smith, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, highlighted that the study 'was only carried out with cells in the lab, and as the researchers haven’t shown that these reprogrammed T-cells can actually kill cancer cells in animals or humans, more research is needed'.

Dr Kawamoto confirmed that the next step for his team would be 'to test whether these T cells can selectively kill tumour cells but not other cells in the body. If they do, these cells might be directly injected into patients for therapy'.

Other leading researchers have welcomed the study. Professor Alan Clarke, director of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute at Cardiff University, told the BBC: 'This is a potentially very exciting development which extends our capacity to develop novel cell therapies'.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
14 August 2017 - by Ebtehal Moussa 
Over a 100 new genes that may be essential for cancer immunotherapy to work have been identified using a new CRISPR-based screen...
2 March 2015 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
This well-timed Panorama documentary details how innovative treatments are being developed at the Institute of Cancer Research and trialled at the Royal Marsden...

19 May 2014 - by Dr Lanay Griessner 
Definitive support for the existence of human cancer stem cells has been found, according to researchers at the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden...
17 March 2014 - by Chris Hardy 
The Japanese research centre responsible for two stem cell experiments published in January has admitted that it may have to retract the papers, as the investigation into research misconduct in relation to the two articles continues...
24 February 2014 - by Chris Hardy 
Researchers trialling a gene therapy-based treatment for leukemia have said the early results go beyond anything they could have thought of in their 'wildest dreams'...
17 December 2012 - by Alison Cranage 
Scientists have converted kidney cells from human urine into brain cells, bypassing the need for embryonic stem cells...
12 November 2012 - by Dr Anna Cauldwell 
Eight heart attack patients given injections of stem cells harvested from their own hearts show significant improvement in their heart function two years after treatment...
16 July 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Two UK newspapers have hailed a potential treatment for osteoarthritis using a patient's own stem cells although results from early studies in animals and patients are yet to be published...
12 March 2012 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A potential stem cell therapy for glaucoma – a degenerative eye condition that can lead to blindness – has yielded positive results in animal tests...
14 November 2011 - by Luciana Strait 
Human embryonic stem cells have been used to treat a model of Parkinson's disease, rats and monkeys, pointing to a possible new way of treating the condition....
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.