Mom's Cytotoxic T Cells from Dengue May Protect Babies Against Zika

Researchers investigated the fetal effects of Zika virus exposure in dengue-immune and nonimmune mice.

Outbreaks of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in different parts of the world have raised awareness of its health effects. ZIKV is an RNA flavivirus and is transmitted by mosquitoes and sexual contact. An important feature of ZIKV infection is its maternal to fetal passage and induction of birth defects. Congenital Zika Syndrome has been described, and includes defects such as microcephaly, brain damage, eye defects, and musculoskeletal defects.

Research on Universal Cancer Vaccine

Researchers are hoping to develop a cancer vaccine to improve a patient’s immune system so they can destroy the cancer cells.

The objective of therapeutic cancer vaccines is to support and enhance a patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal cells. The first therapeutic immune cell–based cancer vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is Sipuleucel-T. Administration of this vaccine in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer lead to an increase in overall survival. Boosting T-cell responses against antigens that cause a number of diseases has been approached by autologous transfer of dendritic cells. A pilot study was conducted using dendritic cells pulsed with tumor lysate from patients with ovarian cancer. Vaccination of the patients stimulated T-cell responses to the tumor antigen led to an increase in patient survival. 

Can Stem Cells Treat Lyme Disease?

Because many people with Lyme disease do not fully recover with antibiotics alone, many are seeking stem cell treatments as an option.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of blacklegged ticks (deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. A number of debilitating and long-lasting symptoms can include the development of a distinctive skin rash (erythema migrans), fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. Due to the nonspecific and diverse symptoms, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed and can progress to serious conditions of the heart, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems.

Targeting T Cells to Treat IBD

Recent research looks into the relationship between T helper cells and the autoimmune conditions of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caused by an immune dysfunction. People with IBD can experience diarrhea, rectal bleeding, constipation, abdominal pain and cramping, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Dysregulated responses of a subset of CD4 T cells (T helper cells) are associated with autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions and may induce and maintain intestinal inflammation, but the mechanism is not fully understood. The primary cytokine secreted by T helper cells of the intestinal mucosa of people with IBD is interferon (IFN)-gamma. Recent research was conducted to better understand the role of IFN-producing CD4 T cells in the initiation and maintenance of IBD.

Combination of Cells Improves Immunotherapy

A recent study looked at how checkpoint inhibitors may impact the success of immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

Immune homeostasis is crucial for human and animal survival. The immune system is equipped with cells and factors that maintain a critical balance of signals that prevent immune dysfunction. Pathways that ensure this balance are immune checkpoints, and these are essential for the self-tolerance that prevents autoimmunity. Immune checkpoint proteins modulate T-cell responses to self-proteins and antigens, including tumor antigens. The proteins are expressed on the surface of cancer and cytotoxic T cells, and cancer cells use these to evade attack by T cells.

Treatment of Fibromyalgia as an Inflammatory Disease

Rheumatologists are recognizing the inflammatory component of fibromyalgia and that has led to studies using disease state primary cells to determine the best treatment approaches.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is commonly considered a neurologic problem with multifocal pain as an important feature of the disease. However, rheumatologists are recognizing the inflammatory component of fibromyalgia and that pain my not be the primary feature of the condition. Other significant aspects of fibromyalgia are fatigue, sleep disorders, and cognitive impairments. Results of studies in patients with fibromyalgia suggest that excessive cytokine release may be the central cause of the development and symptomology of fibromyalgia.

How to Optimize Material Quality for Cellular Therapeutics

Last week, HemaCare published an article in Technology Networks discussing how optimal apheresis and collection methods give cell therapies a leading edge1 

Cell therapy is a unique field because the “products” are derived from living human cells and where each donor is different, variability is inevitable. Quality precursor material gives cell therapy products their best start. Variable or low-quality starting material introduces a need for complex separation strategies or repeated manufacturing runs, leading to higher costs and resource requirements.1 To ensure the process utilizes the right resources, scientists must adopt optimal apheresis instrumentation and collection methods as one of the most important steps. 

Treating Glioblastoma with CAR-T Immunotherapy

There are some promising advances in treating glioblastoma and other cancers with immunotherapy.

The most frequently diagnosed type of brain cancer in adults is glioblastoma multiforme. Despite the emergence of immunotherapeutic approaches for a number of cancers, reliable treatments that can extend overall survival of patients with glioblastoma to the two-year mark and beyond are still under investigation. There are some promising advances such as an experimental dendritic cellbased vaccine that increased the median overall survival rate from 15 months to 23 months.

Two-Pronged Antibodies Draw Immune Killers to Cancer Cells

Researchers have developed an antibody to enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

The arsenal of immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer treatment is continuing to grow. Of the immune cells and molecules used to enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer, using antibodies is gaining momentum as a strategy to target cancer cells. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida have developed an antibody with two specific functions that enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

Brain Cancer Vaccine Could Improve Prognosis

Immunotherapy for glioblastoma has been considered an option for patients and extend life of patients.

Glioblastoma multiforme is an aggressive cancer of the brain or spinal cord that originates from astrocytes. Although this type of cancer is not age specific, it is diagnosed more often in older patients. Glioblastoma is very difficult to treat, and current options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, use of electrical fields (tumor treating fields), and targeted therapies to prevent tumor blood vessel formation. On average, people live for about 15 months after diagnosis despite receiving the standard treatments for glioblastoma.