Pulse 91: Reprogramming Skin Cells into Cancer Killers

10 December 2018
Giulio Prisco

Cancer Survivor Couple

Researchers at Lund University have reprogrammed skin cells into immune cells called dendritic cells (see below). Dendritic cell-based strategies could be useful in cancer therapies, but dendritic cells often become dysfunctional in cancer patients. Therefore, it’s important to find ways of generating dendritic cells for every patient, which is what the Lund scientists have done.

Not only are the reprogrammed cells able to alert the body’s immune system to cancerous cells, notes Futurism, they can also be guided by researchers to seek out specific targets before they are introduced into the body.

“From a tissue section taken from the skin, we can cultivate millions of cells and reprogram them to dendritic cells in a process that takes only nine days”, says research leader Filipe Pereira. “Our study has shown that reprogrammed cells have the ability to effectively capture and present antigens to killer cells in the same way as ‘natural’ dendritic cells.”

“This represents an excellent opportunity to merge the fields of cellular reprogramming and cancer immunotherapy. Generating dendritic cells employing direct cell reprogramming is very attractive from a therapeutic perspective: our studies may be useful in the clinic for generation of patient-specific dendritic cells.”

Skin cells reprogrammed into dendritic cells for cancer immunotherapy. Scientists at Lund University have successfully reprogrammed mouse and human skin cells into immune cells called dendritic cells. According to the researchers, the process, described in a research paper published in Science Immunology, is quick and effective, representing a pioneering contribution for applying direct reprogramming for inducing immunity. Importantly, the finding opens up the possibility of developing novel dendritic cell-based immunotherapies against cancer.

Functional network of blood vessels grown at centimeter scale. Researchers at University of Delaware have pioneered methods to grow a self-assembling, functional network of blood vessels at a size relevant for human use. The new microfluidic system, which could someday be utilized to grow blood vessels for tissue and organ transplantation into humans, is described in a study published in Biomaterials.

Artificial synapses made of nanowires. Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich, in collaboration with researchers at Aachen and Turin, have produced a memristive element made from nanowires that functions in much the same way as a biological nerve cell. The component, described in a research paper published in Nature Communications, is able to both save and process information, as well as receive numerous signals in parallel. The resistive switching cell made from oxide crystal nanowires could find use in building bioinspired “neuromorphic” processors, able to take over the diverse functions of biological synapses and neurons.

New strategies may improve CAR-T cell therapy. Mayo Clinic researchers have developed two new strategies that may improve the performance of chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T cell therapy) in treating cancer. The scientists have developed a strategy to reduce the severe toxicities associated with CAR-T cell therapy. The strategy involves blocking the GM-CSF protein, which is produced by CAR-T cells and other cells using a clinical-grade antibody (lenzilumab). The results of the preclinical research work have been presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

CAR-T cell therapy led to long-lasting remission of lymphomas in global clinical trial. The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel, formerly CTL019) led to long-lasting remissions in patients with relapsed/refractory (r/r) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), as confirmed by the results of a global clinical trial. The results of the trial have been presented today at the 60th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

More encouraging results presented at the 60th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition. In related news from the ASH meeting, 39 percent of large B cell lymphoma patients treated with the chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T) Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) remained in remission more than two years (27.1 months median follow up) following therapy, and more than half of the patients treated remain alive. A new combination of three drugs that harness the body's immune system has been found safe and effective, destroying most cancer cells in 95 percent of patients with recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma. Preliminary results from a clinical study of an investigational cellular immunotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma expressing the CD30 protein marker are encouraging.

Subscribe to Pulse

Don't miss a beat! Thrivous curates the most important news on health science and human enhancement, so you can stay informed without wasting time on hype and trivia. It's part of the free Thrivous newsletter. We'll email you about human enhancement, nootropics, and geroprotectors, as well as company news and deals.