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Forschung am UKE © Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)

New procedure makes transplanted stem cells acceptable

Method diguises transplanted cells making them invulnerable

An international team of scientists at UKE, led by Prof. Dr. Sonja Schrepfer, has successfully modified transplanted stem cells so that they are no longer “foreign” and rejected by the recipient’s immune system, a press release said Monday (February 18, 2019). These so-called iPS cells are given an “immune invisibility cap” making them invulnerable, said the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). “This is an important step on the way to developing universal stem cell therapy,” Schrepfer noted.

iPS cells – ethically acceptable stem cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are pluripotent meaning they can develop into any cell or tissue type in the body. Pluripotency is crucial for therapeutic applications. Pluripotent stem cells can, for instance, develop into intact heart muscle cells and regenerate damaged heart muscle tissue after a heart attack. The ethics surrounding embryonic stem cells often spark heated debates unlike the production of iPS cells. High hopes have been vested in iPS for regenerative medicine, as such cells do not endanger the donor.

Understanding mechanisms

“Donor organs are declining worldwide and the waiting lists for organ transplants are becoming longer and longer. We have a great need for other treatment strategies for our patients with organ failure. One promising strategy is cell therapy, in which organs or tissue are replaced by new cells derived from stem cells,” said Prof. Dr. Dr. Hermann Reichenspurner, Director of UKE’s Department of Cardiovascular Surgery.

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