A team of researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has developed a method for mass producing T cells that have been reprogrammed using stem cell technology to target and destroy cancerous tumors. In their paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team describes how they collected isolated T cells, reprogrammed them into stem cells, added a gene marker, than reprogrammed them back into T cells that are able to target cells in cancerous tumors.
This new effort builds on research conducted this past March where a team held clinical trials that showed that genetically modified T cells could be used to target and destroy tumors (that came about due to lymphoblastic leukemia). Though successful, that effort resulted in a difficult to employ therapy. In this second-stage, the researchers developed a technique that allowed for mass producing reprogrammed T cells, thereby making the therapy more easily applicable.
To mass produce the cells, the researchers started by extracting T cells from a donor mouse. Those T cells were then modified to reprogram them into stem cells. Next, the researchers transferred gene information from a disabled retrovirus into the stem cells. The final step was reprogramming the stem cells back into T cells. Because they contained new gene information the newly minted T cells were capable of attacking cancer cells. Once created, the T cells were then nurtured into reproducing naturally—creating up to 1000 copies of themselves. Those cells were then injected back into the original donor mouse where they set to work destroying tumor cells.
Read more at: Phys.org