Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Will cell therapy become a 'third pillar' of medicine?

Date:
April 3, 2013
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Treating patients with cells may one day become as common as it is now to treat the sick with drugs made from engineered proteins, antibodies or smaller chemicals, according to UC San Francisco researchers. They have outlined their vision of cell-based therapeutics as a "third pillar of medicine."

Treating patients with cells may one day become as common as it is now to treat the sick with drugs made from engineered proteins, antibodies or smaller chemicals, according to UC San Francisco researchers. They outlined their vision of cell-based therapeutics as a "third pillar of medicine" in an article published online April 3 in Science Translational Medicine.

"Today, biomedical science sits on the cusp of a revolution: the use of human and microbial cells as therapeutic entities," said Wendell Lim, PhD, a UCSF professor and director of the UCSF Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, and one of the article's co-authors.

Cell therapies have the potential to address critical, unmet needs in the treatment of some of the deadliest diseases, including diabetes, cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases, the scientists said.

The reason, they said, is that cells can carry out functions that can't be performed by small-molecule drugs produced by Big Pharma, or by targeted drugs developed by biotech firms in the wake of the genetic engineering revolution. For one, cells are adaptable. They can sense their surroundings better than today's drugs and can vary their responses to better suit physiologic conditions.

Continued advances in cellular engineering could provide a framework, according to the co-authors, for the development of cellular therapies that are safe and that act predictably.

Joining Lim as co-authors of the Science Translational Medicine article are Michael Fischbach, PhD, assistant professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and an expert on the human microbiome, and Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, executive vice chancellor and provost at UCSF and a leading diabetes and transplant rejection researcher.

The three also have organized a daylong symposium on the potential of cell therapy on April 12, 2013, supported by UCSF and the journal Science Translational Medicine, featuring talks and discussion by some of the nation's leading scientists in stem cell therapy, immunotherapy and the human microbiome -- the latter consisting primarily of the many hundreds of interacting species of bacteria that live within and upon us.

It has been more than four decades since cells were first used successfully in bone marrow and organ transplants, but the strategies envisioned today are more complex, involving manipulating cells based on new knowledge of how genes program their development and inner workings.

Cells of the immune system are among those that naturally carry out critical functions, but researchers are working on manipulating them to create better-targeted and more effective therapies. For instance, immune responses directed against cancer often are weak, so scientists are engineering and growing populations of immune cells that target specific molecules found on cancer cells. Already, remarkable recoveries from deadly leukemia have been credited to these new experimental treatments.

Bacterial cells also are showing promise for therapy. In recent years scientists have come to appreciate that 90 percent of the cells living within and on our bodies are bacteria and that these microbes interact with our own cells and affect our health.

The potential of bacteria to treat disease has been demonstrated dramatically by the recent use of fecal transplants to introduce communities of health-promoting bacteria into patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infections, a serious gastrointestinal condition that can be life-threatening. Combinations of bacteria that also are engineered to fight inflammation might prove to be even more effective in treating Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases, according to the UCSF scientists.

Other "killer apps" for cell therapies might include combinations of bacterial and human engineered cells. For instance, to control weight gain, gut bacteria might be deployed to convert certain carbohydrates into non-digestible forms, and also to signal engineered human cells lining the epithelial walls to trigger a program that sends a message to the brain that appetite has been satisfied.

Still, many engineering and regulatory challenges to cell therapy remain, the authors concede. Scientists want to be able to reliably control many aspects of cells, including their activation, population growth, programmed death, migration to specific sites in the body, interactions and communications with other cells, production of small therapeutic molecules, and decision making.

While the complexity of cells makes many scientists leery of cell therapies, the authors said, this complexity might make cell therapies more predictable than other drugs, because complicated, naturally occurring feedback circuits tend to restrict cellular activity. Just as cells already use molecular circuits to act very precisely, researchers ought to be able develop a systematic understanding of the cell's control modules to tune and reshape how cells behave.

"If small molecules and biologics are tools, then cells are carpenters -- and architects and engineers as well," Fischbach said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael A. Fischbach, Jeffrey A. Bluestone, and Wendell A. Lim. Cell-Based Therapeutics: The Next Pillar of Medicine. Sci Transl Med, 3 April 2013 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005568

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Will cell therapy become a 'third pillar' of medicine?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141434.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2013, April 3). Will cell therapy become a 'third pillar' of medicine?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141434.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Will cell therapy become a 'third pillar' of medicine?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141434.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins