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Publications of the Week

DLL4 and VCAM1 Enhance the Emergence of T Cell–Competent Hematopoietic Progenitors From Human Pluripotent Stem Cells

By August 31, 2022No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Science Advances from the lab of Dr. Peter Zandstra at UBC with first authors Dr. Yale Michaels (pictured, back row, second from left) and John Edgar.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

A major goal in the Stem Cell Bioengineering (Zandstra) Lab is to generate functional cells and tissues from stem cells. Our mission is to learn the rules that govern organ formation and cellular differentiation and leverage this knowledge to accelerate production of cell therapies and regenerative medicines.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In our recent publication, we developed a clinically relevant process for making blood progenitor cells and T cells from pluripotent stem cells. T cells can be powerful therapies, but getting T cells from individual donors to make single-use treatments is expensive and labour intensive. Pluripotent stem cells can be grown in the lab indefinitely. This makes them a renewable, low-cost source of T cells for therapy. Most previous T cell differentiation methods require the use of animal-derivatives which can cause safety challenges and increase lot-to-lot variability. On the other hand, our new process is chemically defined- it does not require animal serum, cell extracts or feeder cells. Because of this, our work helps to bring pluripotent stem cell-derived T cell therapies one step closer to the clinic.

What are the next steps for this research?

An important next step for this project is to scale this method up. In the publication, we used small tissue culture vessels, like 96 well plates, to demonstrate that our approach is effective. Now we want to translate this into an automated process that happens in much larger volumes so we can make sizable quantities of T cells in a single low-cost production run.

If you’d like to mention your funding sources, please list them.

Funding for this work was provided by Michael Smith Health Research BC, the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), Notch Therapeutics, the Stem Cell Network and the Wellcome Leap Human Organs, Physiology, and Engineering (HOPE) program.

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