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Melanoma  (Source:
Tests showed that the new T-cells had unlimited lifespans and longer telomeres, which are caps on the ends of their chromosomes that protect them from aging

Scientists have found a way to alter T-cells so they can fight infections and cancer better than normal immune cells.

Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi and a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo have given the T-cells of patients with HIV and cancer longer lifespans, which allows them to fight cancer and infections more effectively.

Our bodies have immune cells that are supposed to fight off infection and cancer, but due to their short lifespans and low numbers, they are not always able to stand up to such infections and diseases.

The researchers took the T-cells from a patient with HIV and another with malignant melanoma. The mature immune T-cells were turned into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which have the ability to differentiate into any cell type. From there, the iPSCs were redifferentiated into T-cells, but had longer lifespans and greater growth potential.

Tests showed that the new T-cells had unlimited lifespans and longer telomeres, which are caps on the ends of their chromosomes that protect them from aging. The T-cells recognized the protein MART-1, which is commonly found on melanoma tumors.

Now the team is working on testing whether the cells can fight infection without harming healthy cells.

Source: Science Daily

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Cool strategy
By jimhsu on 1/5/2013 4:32:36 PM , Rating: 5
Molecular biologist in training here. Clever ... de-differentiating T-cells back to pluripotency, getting the telomerase treatment, and then redifferentiating them back. You minimize the oncogenic potential by having the same cells that you started with, only that they live much longer.

Though I didn't expect that the limitation of cellular immunity was cell lifespan; I'd expect it to be immune evasion on the part of cancer cells and destruction/lysis by HIV. Though if the hematopoietic progenitor cells are already maxed out churning out replacements to replace the dead, I guess prolonging cellular lifespan would make a difference.

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