In a promising start to a brand new year, researchers at the University of Tokyo and the Riken Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology may have found a possible cure for some of the worst diseases plaguing mankind, including HIV and cancer.
Working as a team, researchers from both institutions were able to extract live T-cells, the vital powerhouses of the human immune system, from patients, specifically targeting specialized cytotoxic T-cells which have the ability to recognize and attack signs of infection. One donor suffered from skin cancer; another HIV.
Researchers then converted the T-cells back to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) by exposing them to a group of compounds called the “Yamanaka factors,” in part so they could study the stem cells’ differentiation processes. Then the team reconverted the stem cells back into specialized disease-fighters, the T-cells known as “killer T-cells”or “killer T lymphocytes.” Among other critical findings, researchers discovered that the skin-cancer fighting T-cells remained capable of producing the crucial anti-tumor compound interferon.