Immune Cells Produced In Dish
A team of scientists from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has reproduced & visualized the earliest developmental steps in human immune cell production in the laboratory and are now set to advance our understanding of childhood diseases like leukemia and autoimmune conditions.
According to the researchers, this advanced research could lead to a patient’s skin cells being used to produce new cells for cancer immunotherapy or to test autoimmune disease interventions.
The research was led by Professor Ed Stanley and Andrew Elefanty, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. The research group believes that this study will have definitive evidence about how the body’s earliest immune cells are formed.
Immune Cells Produced In Dish- First-of-its-kind-Research
These lymphocytes are produced by cells that form the embryo’s first organs rather than the blood-producing stem cells that sit inside the body’s bone marrow.
The study by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute combined two powerful laboratory techniques. First being genetic engineering and second a novel way of growing stem cells. The has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Cell Biology.
First, the research team engineered pluripotent stem cells to glow green when a specific protein marker of early immune cells, RAG1, was switched on. RAG1 is responsible for developing the immune response to infections and vaccines.
Next, the team isolated the RAG1-positive cells- the ones which were glowing green. They demonstrated that they could also form multiple immune cell types, including cells required for shaping the development of the whole immune system.
Immune Cells Produced In Dish- The Clinical Application
Professor Stanley said that his team believes that early cells are critical for the correct maturation of the thymus. The thymus is the organ that acts as a nursery for T-cells. He added that these RAG1 cells are like the painters and decorators who set up that nursery, making it a safe and cozy environment for later-born immune cells.
Professor Elefanty highlighted that the clinical application of this study would take several years. He added that this technique could be used to explore the development of several diseases like childhood leukemia and type 1 diabetes.