Stem cells reprogrammed into T cells to target and destroy lymphatic tumors

08/11/2013 - 00:00

By Chris Palmer -

Scientists have combined the ability to reprogram stem cells into T cells with a recently developed strategy for genetically modifying patients’ own T cells to seek and destroy tumors. The result is the capacity to mass-produce in the laboratory an unlimited quantity of cancer-fighting cells that resemble natural T cells, a type of white blood cell that fights cancer and viruses. In a study published today (August 11) in Nature Biotechnology, researchers show that the genetically engineered cells can effectively wipe out tumors in a mouse model of lymphoma.

“To put these two techniques together is really groundbreaking,” said Pam Ohashi, a cell biologist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the study. “The idea that you can make unlimited numbers of tumor-killing cells is very exciting.”