Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Care for a Brand New Thymus?

Japanese scientists have built an artificial "lymph node" from thymus tissue, and transplanted it into immunodeficient mice.
The researchers, from RIKEN's Research Center for Allergy and Immunology in Yokohama, constructed their mouse aLNs by impregnating a two- to three-millimeter-diameter scaffold of the fibrous structural protein collagen with connective tissue extracted from the thymus of newborn mice and dendritic cells. Earlier work suggests that it is the connective tissue stromal cells which organize the structure of lymph nodes.

The aLNs were initially implanted into mice with a normal, healthy immune system, which had previously been injected with a harmless antigen compound to trigger an immune response. So the aLNs became populated with immune system T-cells and B-cells which specifically recognize and counter germs or cancer cells expressing the injected antigen.

These primed aLNs were then transplanted into two sets of mice--a group with a normal immune system which had never been exposed to the antigen, and a group in which the immune system did not function. When then exposed to the antigen both groups responded immediately by making appropriate protective antibodies--and the response to the antigen lasted for longer than four weeks, which means immune cells which retained 'memory' of the antigen had been generated.

Further investigation of the immunodeficient mice showed that T- and B-cells from the aLNs migrated to their spleens and bone marrows and were there generating large numbers of antigen-specific antibody-forming cells. The results also revealed some of the compounds involved in directing this migration process.
This research has implications for the study of treatments for immune diseases, cancer, aging, and infectious disease such as AIDS. Thymosin is one of the several hormone levels that falls abruptly in the aging human. Growing an artificial thymus to boost thymosin levels appears within reach, if proven to be beneficial.

Also, here is a free collection of articles on Nanotechnology in Cancer.

And, here is more on an improved method for cervical cancer screening.

Better screening and better treatments. The two need to go hand in hand. Add better prevention to the mix and you are getting somewhere.

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