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Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD


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University of Minnesota Opened New NK-Cell Immunotherapy Clinical Trial

Dec 3, 2019 10:06:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in NK Cells, Immunotherapy (Immunology)

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The new FT516 immunotherapy is the first iPSC-derived therapy approved for clinical testing in the world and may provide a treatment for many different types of cancers.

A collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Fate Therapeutics will begin clinical trials for a novel “off-the-shelf” targeted natural killer (NK) cell cancer immunotherapy derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). iPSCs are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed so that they regain the ability to differentiate into any cell type, making them pluripotent (similar to embryonic stem cells). The new NK cell therapy, FT516, is developed from genetically engineered human iPSCs with enhanced anti-tumor activity.

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NK Cells Used to Find Cause of Fatal Hepatitis A Cases

Nov 26, 2019 10:03:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Drug Discovery, NK Cells

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A drug used to treat acetaminophen hepatotoxicity may give hope to an effective treatment for FVH caused by liver-impairing viruses, including hepatitis A.

Fulminant viral hepatitis (FVH) is a form of acute liver failure caused by a virus and characterized by severe impairment of liver function. Primarily, children and young adults are affected, and the condition is usually fatal unless liver transplantation is implemented early enough. FVH tends to occur in people who are healthy and without any history of previous liver disease and progresses rapidly leading to encephalopathy and death. Given the treatment challenges and lack of a full understanding of how FVH develops, a group of scientists from Rockefeller University in New York analyzed the DNA of an 11-year-old girl who died from FVH.

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New Blood Test Developed for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Oct 22, 2019 10:07:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in PBMCs

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New research may have found a way to make the difficult task of diagnosing ME/CFS much easier through the identification of a new reliable biomarker.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a chronic condition causing extreme fatigue and debilitation, sleep problems, issues with mentation, and other symptoms. The cause is unknown, but immune system alterations, stress, or infectious processes may be associated with the onset of the condition. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported in 2015 that over 800,000 (and perhaps up to 2.5 million) Americans have ME/CFS, with most cases going undiagnosed. The diagnostic challenge is well known, and there has not been a specific test that can confirm ME/CFS. Usually, a number of other conditions must be ruled out before making a diagnosis of ME/CFS.

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Healthy Microbiomes May Boost Activity of Killer Immune Cells

Oct 1, 2019 10:10:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Cytotoxic T Cells, T Cells

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Researchers at the University of Melbourne are studying how to boost the body’s immune system to help fight off certain cancers through a healthy microbiome.

The microbiome, the collective group or community of microorganisms that have a tight connection and relationship with the rest of our bodies, is essential for our healthy existence. The most studied microbiome is that of the intestines, and it is now known to play a crucial role in more than digestion. There is a critical balance between types of microbes (bacterial, fungi, viruses) that influences the body’s biochemistry, such as cholesterol levels, blood glucose, and even brain function.

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Is an Unusual Immune Cell the Cause of Type I Diabetes?

Sep 24, 2019 10:20:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Autoimmune Disorders, T Cells

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center discovered unique autoimmune cells in type 1 diabetes.

Over 30 million people living in the United States are affected by diabetes, and 5% of those have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder whereby the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s own immune system. This leads to a lack of sufficient insulin needed to assist the entry of glucose into cells, causing hyperglycemia. The mechanism of this aspect is mainly unknown. However, it is held that insulin is the target of the autoimmune attack that leads to type 1 diabetes.

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