Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

A Mouse Made Just for You!

April 23, 2012 2 comments

In the future when you check into a hospital, doctors and physicians may assign you your own mouse. This isn’t for a pet- this is for your own diagnosis. The immune-deficient mouse, specially bred for this job, will receive a transplant of your tissue, which will allow it to mimic your immune system, or whatever your specified type of disease afflicting you. Then doctors can try out a cocktail of drugs or gene therapies to see what might work on you, using the mouse as a test first.

Two teams of researchers have been working on personalized mouse models, or mouse avatars, that can serve as test beds for doctors looking for the right treatments. Physicians could try different combinations of drugs to see what works best without the consequences of human trial and error and losing human lives. Doctors at Columbia University have created mice with human immune systems, which they are using to study autoimmune diseases.  “The work took several weeks, but in the end, the mouse had a complete human immune system, including T cells, beta cells and myeloid cells, which create other immune cells. Sykes plans to use this personalized immune mouse to study type 1 diabetes, which is caused by errant T cells attacking insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. That paper was published last week in Science Translational Medicine.”

“In one recent study, Australian researchers were working with a pancreatic cancer patient, trying to determine genetic mutations that could make his cancer susceptible to certain drugs. They grafted a piece of the patient’s tumor tissue onto mice with depleted immune systems, so the mice would not reject the transplant. They tested a cancer drug that their gene screening suggested could work, and they were right — the tumor shrank after the mice were treated.” This is a great breakthrough that presents very hopeful treatment prospects in the future for cancer patients especially, but also patients afflicted with other illnesses.

Since growing a personalized mouse is tricky and expensive, scientists are working to make it more affordable, commonplace, and more mass-produced so that hopefully in the near future, maybe as soon as 15 or 20 years, we will be able to have this personalized treatment available to nearly all patients. Research likes this shows a very promising outlook for the medical and diagnostic field. Do you guys think this is a great advancement? Do you think it work should be continued? How do you think that it will help future patients?


Immune Systems Tricked Into Accepting Foreign Organs

March 9, 2012 2 comments

Scientists have been experimenting with ways to trick the body’s immune system into accepting foreign donated organs, and it seems that they have finally succeeded. Of eight kidney transplant patients who have been treated with this new approach, five have managed to avoid taking anti-rejection drugs a year after their surgery. These organs were accepted into their bodies no matter the blood type, from a mismatched unrelated organ donor.

I know that this is an incredible stride in medicine, as it flings doors wide open for patients to avoid a lifetime of drugs to keep their body from rejecting the organs, and even better, now finding organs for needy people will be much more successful if nearly anyone can be a math, regardless or blood type or familial relation.  And one patient, 47-year-old Lindsay Porter of Chicago, is completely free of anti-rejection drugs nearly two years after her kidney transplant.

Typically, patients have to take pills to suppress their immune systems from recognizing a foreign object, such as a new organ, and rejecting it, rendering the organ completely useless for anyone else, and for the patient’s body as well. To get transplant recipients to accept the donor organ, the team needs to condition” them by suppressing their body’s bone marrow with chemotherapy and radiation before transplanting the donor’s bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bones. Bone marrow contains immature blood-forming stem cells that give rise to all blood cells, including immune system cells.

They try to use donor derived cells to achieve the full cohesion and matching in the patient’s body. Meanwhile, the transplant recipient is given radiation and chemotherapy to suppress the immune system, a process intended to prepare them for accepting the donor’s stem cells. They also get implanted with an enriched mix of the donor’s stem cells as well as their own, which tries to create a more natural environment for these two types of cells to “coexist peacefully.”

What kind of future benefits do you guys think this new way of doing surgery can bring? I personally think that the possibilities are nearly endless.