Without the T-cells, the cells responsible for the fight against foreign cells, we humans are very vulnerable to disease. T cells themselves, however, rely on indicators of the immune system, dendritic cells, to search for and to suspect something.
In cancer treatments like immunotherapy, this process is manipulated to get our own bodies to attack cancer cells. Now, for the first time, a research team from the University of Lund in Sweden has developed a process of transforming human skin cells into these immune system indicators, which can lead to safer immunotherapy options.
The problem with the bodies
Combating cancer with the immune system of the body is not an easy task. Sometimes, cancer can cause dendritic cells to behave in unusual ways and not function properly. There is also a chance your body to reject treatment together. By creating immune cells from the patient's own body, the chance of rejection is drastically reduced.
This process, called direct reprogramming, was recently published in the magazine Scientific immunology and is not only effective but also fast. "From the skin-extracted tissue, we can cultivate millions of cells and reprogram them into dendritic cells in a process that takes only nine days," said Philippe Pereira, the research team leader.
Not only can reprogrammed cells can alert the body's immune system to cancer cells, they can also be led by researchers to look for specific goals before they are introduced into the body.
Old cell, new tricks
Cellular immunotherapy is a relatively new opportunity to treat cancer. Better understanding of the complexity of how our immune system works can help us keep our health longer. The research conducted by the Pereira team will help improve treatment options and discover new ways to study immunotherapy.
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