Health & Medicine - Posted by Stephen Rouse-Cardiff on Thursday, March 22, 2012 13:33 - 0 Comments
Cloned cheek cells keep immunity in check
CARDIFF U. (UK) — Cells created in the lab from cheek lining tissue could offer the answer to disorders of the immune system.
While the body’s immune system protects against many diseases, it can also be harmful. Using white blood cells (lymphocytes), the system can attack insulin-producing cells, causing diabetes, or cause the body to reject transplanted organs.
Researchers from Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry led by Professor Phil Stephens, with colleagues from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, have found a new group of cells with a powerful ability to suppress the immune system’s action.
Straight from the Source
Oral lining cells were taken from the insides of patients’ cheeks and cloned. Laboratory tests showed that even small doses of the cells completely inhibited the lymphocytes.
As reported online in Stem Cells and Development, the breakthrough suggests that the cheek cells have wide-ranging potential for future therapies for immune system-related diseases. Existing immune system research has focussed on adult stem cells, particularly those derived from bone marrow. The cheek tissue cells are much stronger in their action.
“At this stage, these are only laboratory results,” says Lindsay Davies, a member of the Cardiff team. “We have yet to recreate the effect outside the laboratory and any treatments will be many years away.
“However, these cells are extremely powerful and offer promise for combating a number of diseases. They are also easy to collect—bone marrow stem cells require an invasive biopsy, whereas we just harvest a small biopsy from inside the mouth.”
The team has received funding by the Medical Research Council to investigate the cloned cells further.
More news from Cardiff University: www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/