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Can we Make Edited Stem Cells Invisible to the Immune System?

Can we Make Edited Stem Cells Invisible to the Immune System?

Pluripotent stem cells are a renewable source of cells that have the potential to repair damaged tissues or treat degenerative diseases. They hold the potential for treating a myriad of disease pathologies including cancer, diabetes, hematological disorders, and cardiovascular, inflammatory, and neurodegenerative diseases. The immune system has been a major obstruction for stem cell therapies and organ transplantation. Usually, drugs are used to suppress immune activity to reduce the risk of rejection. However, use of immunosuppressants may cause negative side effects for patients.

In a recent report, researchers have genetically engineered pluripotent stem cells using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to create cells that are invisible to the immune system. Newly altered stem cells with two deleted histocompatibility complex genes (MHC class I and II) and overexpression of the CD47 protein did not trigger an immune response. Additionally, pluripotent stem cells were specialized as different types of heart cells that formed blood vessels and heart muscle tissue in humanized mice. This suggests a solution for rejection and is a breakthrough in the field of stem cell research. Further research is needed to see if this technique could be used in patients without the need for an individualized treatment approach.

For more information: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-019-0016-3

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