Tissues that are derived from embryonic stem cells could act as a buffer for the immune system and avoid organ rejection, a University of Oxford researcher has revealed.
According to Dr Paul Fairchild from the University of Oxford, although tissues derived from ES cells succumb to rejection, they have an inherent immune-privilege which, if exploited, could have far reaching implications for the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, heart attacks and Parkinson's.
The findings suggest that, while ES cells are fully susceptible to rejection, they do display some underlying immune privilege which, with better understanding, could be harnessed to promote the activity of regulatory T-cells to suppress activation of the immune system.
"Our work provides hope that the immune system may be persuaded to accept tissues derived from ES cells more readily than has been the case for tissues and organs from conventional sources. It appears that ES cell-derived tissues contribute to their own acceptance by creating an environment conducive to T cell regulation, which may one day be harnessed therapeutically," Fairchild said.
In the study, the Oxford team generated a panel of ES cell lines from strains of mice that differed from recipients by increasing levels of genetic disparity and used them as a source of tissues for transplantation.
Their results show that while minor differences between the two strains provoke prompt rejection in the absence of immune suppression, ES cells do show an underlying tendency for immune privilege.