Without T cells, the cells responsible for fighting foreign cells, we humans are largely susceptible to disease. T-cells themselves, however, rely on the immune system, dendritic cells, they are looking for us and signing something suspicious.
In the treatment of cancer, such as immunotherapy, this process is manipulated to get our own body to attack cancer cells. Now, for the first time, a research team from Lund University in Sweden has developed a process to transform human skin cells into these immune system sentiments, which could lead to safer immunotherapy options.
Combating cancer by your body's immune system is not an easy task. Sometimes, cancer can cause dendritic cells to behave abnormally and they do not work properly. There is also the possibility that your body may refuse treatment altogether. Creating immune cells from the patient's own body significantly reduces the chances of rejection.
This process, called direct reprogramming, was recently published in the journal Scientific immunology and is not only effective but also fast. "We can cultivate millions of cells from the tissue part of the skin and reprogram them on dendritic cells in a process that lasts for only nine days," said Filipe Pereira, leader of the research team who conducted the study.
Not only are reprogrammed cells able to alert the body's immune system to cancer cells, they can also direct scientists to look for specific targets before they are introduced into the body.
Old cell, new tricks
Cell immunotherapy is a relatively new cancer treatment. A better understanding of the complexity of how our immune system functions can help keep you healthier longer. Research by the Pereira Team will help improve treatment options and open up new pathways to immunotherapy research.
READ MORE: Code for reprogramming immunological sites [EurekAlert]
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