07 May 2019

Scientists in the USA have carried out a detailed characterisation of genetically engineered B cells, which they say opens the way for the development of B cell therapy.

Details of the project were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, by researchers at Seattle Children's Research Institute, USA.

The researchers say the treatment could be applied to haemophilia and other protein deficiency disorders, as well as some autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.

The team, led by Dr Richard James, edited the genome of human B cells using the CRISPR/Cas9 system, before introducing them into immunodeficient mice. They found that the cells engrafted into the host bone marrow, persisting as plasma cells for at least a year and producing human antibodies at consistent levels. 

They argue that successful B cell therapy would provide long-lasting benefits for patients – as B cells can survive for decades. Dr Richard James said he hoped for a Phase I clinical trial “in the next few years.”

He said: “Theoretically, the B cells we created could provide a long-term treatment for a wide range of diseases where the body lacks the ability to make a certain protein, like in the case of the bleeding disorder, haemophilia B.

“Such a cell therapy could also have broad applications for autoimmune conditions, where the introduced protein could be used to turn off abnormal immune responses, or to disarm infectious diseases by secreting known protective antibodies.”

He added: “While others have developed a relatively short-lived product, the reprogrammed B plasma cells studied in our research have the potential to reside in the bone marrow and produce high-levels of a therapeutic protein for a much longer period.”

Source: Seattle Children's Research Institute: https://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/researchers-ready-b-cells-for-novel-cell-therapy/


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