Scientific breakthrough in cancer and HIV treatments

Canadian scientists have found a way to grow a plentiful supply of disease-fighting cells that might one day boost therapy for cancer and HIV.

The cells, called T cells, normally patrol the body and swallow up infected or cancerous cells. But chemo- or radiotherapy, and the HIV virus, destroy them, according to a report in Nature. Now a Canadian team has grown potentially limitless T cells in the laboratory. "We're very excited," says immunologist Juan Carlos Zuniga-Pflucker of the University of Toronto.

Researchers have converted mouse and human embryonic stem cells into blood, nerves and muscle. But they did not know how to coax them into making T cells.

Zuniga-Pflucker and his team succeeded by identifying a molecule, called DL1, that is essential in T-cell production. They genetically engineered cells to make DL1, and then grew embryonic stem cells on top of this concoction, report

According to scientists have created immune system cells in the laboratory for the first time in a discovery which could lead to revolutionary new treatments for Aids and cancer victims. Medical experts hope that the breakthrough will help in the fight against certain cancers and inherited disorders that suppress an individual’s immune system. Sufferers of auto-immune diseases where immune cells attack the patient’s own body may also benefit from the discovery, it was claimed. Using stem cells taken from mouse embryos, scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada created new immune cells called T-lymphocytes.

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