Cells Grown By Japanese Researchers Kills Cancer

In a promising start to a brand new year, researchers at the University of Tokyo and theRiken Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology may have found a possible cure for some of the worst diseases plaguing mankind, including HIV and cancer.

Working as a team, researchers from both institutions were able to extract live T-cells, the vital powerhouses of the human immune system, from patients, specifically targeting specialized cytotoxic T-cells which have the ability to recognize and attack signs of infection. One donor suffered from skin cancer; another HIV.

Researchers then converted the T-cells back to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) by exposing them to a group of compounds called the “Yamanaka factors,” in part so they could study the stem cells’ differentiation processes. Then the team reconverted the stem cells back into specialized disease-fighters, the T-cells known as “killer T-cells”or “killer T lymphocytes.” Among other critical findings, researchers discovered that the skin-cancer fighting T-cells remained capable of producing the crucial anti-tumor compound interferon

Why take the trouble to convert cells to a pluripotent stage, if only to reconvert them to their original state? Because stem cells can be grown at a much faster pace in a laboratory than in the human body, enabling researchers to create killer T lymphocytes that are—at least theoretically—ready for therapeutic human injection.

We’re not there yet, however, the researchers caution. While the iPS cells did reconvert back into their original specializations, it’s unsure whether lab-grown cells will behave similarly to the immune system’s

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily