Scientists from the University of Oxford, University College London, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered a way to manipulate and grow regulatory T cells that will stop organ rejection in mice. The technique involves extracting T cells from the subject as well as cells from the donor organ and culturing them in a lab dish with a drug that causes new T cells to grow. The T cells learn to recognize the foreign cells and turn off rejection. The cell therapy proved successful in a mouse with an immune system similar to a human’s.
Although testing in humans is 3 to 5 years away, the discovery has huge implications for transplant patients. A treatment of this kind would eliminate the life-long need for costly, harmful immune-suppressing drugs and may mean that donor organs could last indefinitely.
Cell Therapy Aims to Prevent Transplant Rejection, University of Oxford, May 19, 2011