Raising a Treg cell army
Despite promising preclinical findings that raising levels of Treg cells might have utility against autoimmune disease, obtaining enough of the rare cells from humans has been a major translational obstacle. Now, British and American teams have proposed ex vivo strategies to expand and activate Treg cells harvested from patients and have shown that these cultured cells have efficacy in mouse models of graft-versus-host disease and graft rejection.1-3
Athelos, a new subsidiary of NeoStem Inc., hopes to start clinical testing of an approach related to the new methods by year end.
The three studies "provide useful information on how to generate and potentially manipulate Treg cells toward being whole-cell therapies," said Spiros Jamas, CEO of Tempero Pharmaceuticals Inc.Tempero is developing Treg cell-targeting therapies for autoimmune disease.
Jamas added that the techniques "solve the issue of generating a sufficient number of Treg cells that have the right functional properties and retain their suppressive activity" after cell culture.
"The significance is clear-you can now develop a clinical protocol that allows this type of cell therapy, which has been shown to be pretty effective