Engineered Transplant Cells Face Immune Cells 1

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Arnav Chhabra, David Mankus, Margaret Bisher, Abigail Lytton-Jean

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The burgeoning field of cancer immunotherapy is centered around supercharging a person’s own immune system to attack the tumor. Cancer cells, however, have developed ways of making themselves invisible to the immune system so that they can survive and grow.

Just like cancer cells have figured out how to hide from the immune system, we are engineering transplant cells to do the same, but in a safer, more controllable fashion. When a donor’s cells are transplanted into a recipient, the recipient’s immune system often mounts a strong immune response against them, severely limiting their efficacy. By making the transplanted cells invisible to the recipient’s immune system, we can keep them from getting attacked, thus allowing them to survive and function for much longer!

In these images, you can see the immune cells (green) trying to attack the transplant cells (red). However, because we have put the biological equivalent of an invisibility cloak around the transplant cells, they remain unbothered.