May 29, 2024

Revolutionary Immunotherapy Technique Developed by Scientists to Treat Autoimmune Diseases

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have made a groundbreaking advancement in the field of immunotherapy, potentially revolutionizing the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The innovative technique, recently outlined in a preclinical study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, involves the combination of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC), resulting in the development of engineered stem cells known as CAR-MSCs.

Lead investigator and hematologist at Mayo Clinic, Saad Kenderian, M.B., Ch.B., highlighted the potential of this novel approach in targeting inflammatory disease sites more precisely, while enhancing immunosuppression and healing outcomes. The researchers aim to explore interventions that could reduce the long-term reliance on medications for autoimmune conditions.

Mesenchymal stromal cells, integral to the new strategy, possess the unique ability to modulate the immune response, regulate inflammation, and promote tolerance to prevent autoimmune reactions against the body’s own tissues. These cells, found in various tissues such as bone marrow, fat tissue, and umbilical cord blood, can differentiate into different cell types like bone cells, cartilage cells, and fat cells.

In the framework of CAR-MSCs, mesenchymal stromal cells are engineered with chimeric antigen receptors designed to recognize specific disease-related markers. These receptors play a crucial role in targeting diseased cells, ensuring attachment to the target, and initiating immune responses.

While mesenchymal stromal cells have previously shown limitations in addressing autoimmune conditions, the innovative CAR-MSC therapeutic strategy overcomes these challenges by enhancing their ability to target specific cells or markers and improve therapeutic efficacy. The combination approach proved effective in mouse models targeting proteins associated with graft-versus-host disease, as well as inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The researchers observed that the engineered CAR-MSCs exhibited improved abilities to reach inflamed areas, regulate inflammation, and enhance outcomes and survival rates. These enhanced capabilities were attributed to genetic modifications in CAR-MSCs, alterations in released proteins, and changes in receptor expression.

Dr. Kenderian underlined the significance of these preliminary findings in laying the foundation for future applications of this technology, offering a promising path to expand therapy options for a range of autoimmune diseases. This study builds upon previous research on CAR-T therapy and demonstrates Mayo Clinic’s commitment to advancing personalized medicine through innovative biomanufacturing approaches in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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