From left: Senior author Dr. Gay Crooks (UCLA) and co-first authors Dr. Amélie Montel-Hagen (UCLA) and Dr. Christopher Seet (UCLA).
A team led by UCLA researchers Gay Crooks, Amélie Montel-Hagen and Christopher Seet, a CTSI KL2 scholar, are the first to demonstrate a technique to generate mature T cells from self-renewing pluripotent stem cells.
The study, published in Cell Stem Cell, explains how UCLA’s technique uses structures called artificial thymic organoids. These structures work by mimicking the environment of the thymus, the organ in which T cells develop from blood stem cells. T cells fight not only infection but have the potential to destroy cancer cells. With this technique, researchers may be able to pursue new cancer immunotherapies and further research into T cell therapies for viral infections such as HIV and autoimmune diseases.
The study was supported by the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute along with the National Institutes of Health (through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences), the Tower Cancer Research Foundation, and the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center’s training program, including support from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.