Engineered T cells can reduce the risk of organ transplant rejection and infection, in a new molecular approach discovered by the University of Basel’s Biozentrum.
Organ transplant rejection is a major issue. But by suppressing the immune system to prevent organ rejection in transplantation medicine, the risk of infection is increased. The researchers at Biozentrum have discovered a new molecular approach to combat this problem, finding that the use of engineered T cells can reduce the risk of rejection and still maintain the ability to fight infection.
Organ transplant rejection and infection
When the body is confronted with foreign material, whether this is viruses, bacteria or fungi, immune cells called T cells work to destroy the foreign material.
Coronin 1 is a protein that regulates T cells. While T cells are essential for detecting and destroying invaders, they also recognise a transplanted organ as foreign, hence the risk of organ transplant rejection.
The team showed in a mouse model that the graft rejections are related to coronin 1. They have described a way to suppress the immune reaction of the body against the organ by modulating the protein Coronin 1.
Engineered T Cells
By blocking the protein, the engineered T cells do not attack the donor organ, but still continue to keep fighting viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections.
The first author Rajesh Jayachandran, explained: “By removing coronin 1, we observed that the T cells not only massively suppressed the immune response to the transplanted organ but even actively prevented its rejection. At the same time, we were astonished that coronin 1-depleted T cells continue to fight infections.”
This study has demonstrated a method for manipulating the body’s immune response by selectively suppressing the immune response of the host. It could provide new approaches to reduce the risk of graft rejection in transplantation medicine in the future.