17 October 2008

Piglets are donors of human immune cells

American scientists have developed a technology for growing human immune system cells in pig embryos. According to the researchers, in the future, the cells obtained in this way can form the basis of new methods of treating oncological diseases and immunodeficiency conditions.

In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan led by Jeffrey Platt, researchers injected progenitor cells of T-lymphocytes from the bone marrow of donors to pig embryos. The immature immune system of embryos did not perceive human cells as foreign, so they could multiply freely in their body, differentiating into different varieties of mature T-lymphocytes.

By mixing human cells isolated from the blood of newborn piglets with the blood of donors, scientists found out that they still perceive donor cells as their own and peacefully coexist with them. At the same time, the T-lymphocytes obtained from piglets attacked the cells of other people as foreign.

If newborn pigs received vaccinations against viral and bacterial infections, lymphocytes isolated from their blood destroyed the corresponding varieties of pathogenic microbes.

According to the authors of the study, their proposed method of growing cells of the human immune system opens up the possibility for new ways to combat various immunodeficiency conditions. In addition, it will be possible to grow T-lymphocytes in piglets for immunotherapy of oncological diseases.

Finally, immune cells can be obtained in the same way to fight dangerous infections, such as HIV, if existing vaccines are poorly tolerated by a person or do not interact with his immune system quickly enough.


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