Cloak and Swagger: Learning From the Enemy

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round green immune cells attack flat purple cells

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

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round green immune cells attack flat purple cells

Arnav Chhabra, David Mankus, Margaret Bisher, Abigail Lytton-Jean, Sangeeta Bhatia
Koch Institute at MIT

When someone receives an organ transplant, their own immune cells may identify it as a foreign body and try to destroy it.

The Bhatia Lab is stealing one of cancer’s most subversive weapons—its ability to elude detection by the immune system—to cast an invisibility cloak over donated cells. By reprogramming them to express the same surface markers as cancer cells, researchers hide transplanted cells (purple) from would-be aggressors (green) in the body. Although superficial, these changes to the cells’ appearance could have deep therapeutic benefit.