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Researchers develop synthetic T cells that mimic form and function of human version

Date: 29.6.2018 

UCLA researchers have developed synthetic T lymphocytes, or T cells, that are near-perfect facsimiles of human T cells. 
Kredit: Fatemeh Majedi / UCLA.

The ability to create the artificial cells could be a key step toward more effective drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases and could lead to a better understanding of human immune cells' behavior. Such cells also could eventually be used to boost the immune system of people with cancer or immune deficiencies.

"The complex structure of T cells and their multifunctional nature have made it difficult for scientists to replicate them in the lab," Alireza Moshaverinia said. "With this breakthrough, we can use synthetic T cells to engineer more efficient drug carriers and understand the behavior of immune cells."

Until recently, bioengineers hadn't been able to mimic the complex nature of human T cells. But the UCLA researchers were able to replicate their shape, size and flexibility, which enable it to perform its basic functions of targeting and homing in on infections. The team fabricated T cells using a microfluidic system.

Moshaverinia said other scientists could use the same process to create various types of artificial cells, such as natural killer cells or microphages, for research on specific diseases or to help develop treatments; in the future, the approach could help scientists develop a database of a wide range of synthetic cells that mimic human cells.

 


 

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