Stem cell immunotherapy

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A novel type of dendritic cell with superior abilities to ‘cross-present’ foreign antigens to immune cells has been recently found in mice and humans.

These superior dendritic cells, identified by markers CD141 and XCR1, have previously only been found in very small populations insufficient to isolate numbers required for therapeutic development.

Researchers at the Oxford Stem Cell Institute have developed a method to produce these dendritic cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.

These dendritic cells are capable of stimulating naïve T-cells to elicit a tumour specific immune response and are the ideal starting point to develop effective immunotherapies.

Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy

Dendritic cells are immune cells that play a key role in directing the body to recognise foreign antigens. Utilising dendritic cells to stimulate immune responses to specific antigens is a promising route to immunotherapy.

Dendritic cells have been widely used for this purpose, but success of existing therapies has been limited due to the low ‘cross-presenting’ capacity of these cells that are generated from monocytes, a type of white blood cell.

A novel type of dendritic cell with superior abilities to ‘cross-present’ foreign antigens to immune cells has been recently found in mice and humans. These superior dendritic cells, identified by markers CD141 and XCR1, have only been found in very small populations insufficient to isolate numbers required for therapeutic development.

Stem cells to dendritic cells

Led by Dr. Paul Fairchild, co-director of the Oxford Stem Cell Institute, Oxford researchers have developed a method to produce these dendritic cells from a patient’s skin cells.

The researchers took skin cells and turned them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can renew indefinitely and are capable of forming any cell type.

The iPSCs were instructed to become dendritic cells using an approach that would be suitable for clinical use (no animal-based materials were used to aid growth).

Proof of principle that these superior dendritic cells are capable of modulating the immune system was demonstrated by using the cells to stimulate naïve T-cells and elicit a tumour specific immune response.

Key benefits of technology

  • ability to induce specific response from naïve T cells

  • potential to scale-up for therapeutic development

  • no animal-based materials used compliant with clinical application

Intellectual property

A patent application has been filed in US and Europe covering the cells and methods for producing them.

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