Penn scientists collaborating with researchers at the University of Minnesota describe in Science Translational Medicine how immune cells engineered at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania can be replicated by the tens of millions in several weeks. This is a dramatic increase over previous duplication methods and will give patients a better chance of having a successful bone marrow or organ transplant. "These highly expanded and functional suppressor T cells could be used to generate a master cell bank that could be used to treat a large number of patients, making this type of therapy much more feasible and cost-effective," says James Riley, PhD, research associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The discovery could also have profound implications for patients with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. Recent work with these cells has already shown promising effects in the treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease, where immune cells in the donor's bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cell or umbilical cord blood, try to reject the patient who is not a perfect tissue match. Between 30-40 percent of all related bone marrow transplant patients experience graft-versus-host disease with 10-30 percent of kidney transplants and 60-80 percent of liver transplant recipients experience acute rejection, according to the National Institutes of Health. In an upcoming clinical trial, the team plans to administer increasing doses of the regulatory T cells before bone marrow transplants using the new expansion method. To read more, please see the University of Minnesota news release.
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