A section of an artificial thymic organoid showing T cells (outlined in green) created from blood stem cells.
In 2017, UCLA’s Dr. Gay Crooks and her colleagues developed a lab-grown human thymus organoid—a cluster of cells that mimics the thymus.
Using the organoid, her team—which includes Dr. Christopher Seet, a CTSI KL2 Scholar—was able to coax human blood stem cells to become mature T cells. Now, they’ve repeated the experiments with mouse cells, providing researchers who rely on mouse models a new platform for studying T cells. Crooks’ team showed that a single blood stem cell is enough to generate a large number of mouse T cells of different subtypes and with different functions.
The research was supported in part by UCLA CTSI along with the National Institutes of Health, the Connie Frank and Evan Thompson Program for Collaborative Restorative Transplantation Research and a UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center Rose Hills Foundation Graduate Scholarship.