Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Proteomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Immune Organ Regenerated in Mice

Published: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have for the first time used regenerative medicine to fully restore a degenerated organ in a living animal.

The team from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine, at the University of Edinburgh, rebuilt the thymus of very old mice by reactivating a natural mechanism that gets shut down with age. 

The regenerated thymus was very similar to one in a young mouse in terms of structure and the genes expressed. The function of the organ was also restored, and mice receiving the treatment began making more T cells – a type of white blood cell important in fighting infection. However, the researchers do not yet know if the immune system of the older mice was strengthened. The research is published today in the journal Development.

Professor Clare Blackburn from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, at the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said:

“By targeting a single protein, we have been able to almost completely reverse age-related shrinking of the thymus. Our results suggest that targeting the same pathway in humans may improve thymus function and therefore boost immunity in elderly patients, or those with a suppressed immune system. However, before we test this in humans we need to carry out more work to make sure the process can be tightly controlled.”

The thymus, located in front of the heart, is the first organ to deteriorate as we age. This shrinking is one of the main reasons our immune system becomes less effective and we lose the ability to fight off new infections, such as flu, as we get older. 

Researchers targeted a key part of this process – a protein called FOXN1, which helps to control how important genes in the thymus are switched on. They used genetically modified mice to enable them to increase levels of this protein using chemical signals. By doing so they managed to instruct immature cells in the thymus – similar to stem cells – to rebuild the organ in the older mice. The regenerated thymus was more than twice the size than in the untreated mice. 

Dr Rob Buckle, Head of Regenerative Medicine at the MRC, said:

“One of the key goals in regenerative medicine is harnessing the body’s own repair mechanisms and manipulating these in a controlled way to treat disease. This interesting study suggests that organ regeneration in a mammal can be directed by manipulation of a single protein, which is likely to have broad implications for other areas of regenerative biology.”

Previous attempts to provoke thymus regeneration have involved using sex hormones, but these have resulted in only temporary recovery of size and function of the organ. In this study, the recovery of the thymus was sustainable, but more work is needed to ensure there are no unintended consequences of increasing FOXN1.

The research was funded by Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, the MRC and the European Union.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Potential Urine Test for CJD
Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Prion Unit at UCL have found that it may be possible to determine whether or not a person has sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD) by testing their urine for the presence of abnormal prion proteins.
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
World's Most In-Depth Study to Detect Alzheimer's Disease
A multisite team will see the most thorough and vigorous testing for Alzheimer's ever performed on volunteers.
Monday, August 22, 2016
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Alumni Awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Professor Michael Levitt, Professor Arieh Warshel and Professor Martin Karplus awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Study Leads to Alzheimer's Breakthrough
Researchers at the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit have used an orally-administered compound to block a major pathway leading to brain cell death in mice, preventing neurodegeneration.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
A Phenomenal Legacy for London 2012
The Phenome Centre will use the cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Scientific News
Top 10 Life Science Innovations of 2016
2016 has seen the release of some truly innovative products. To help you digest these developments, The Scientist have listed their top picks for the year.
Largest Resource of Protein-Protein Interactions
Researchers have developed the largest ever database of protein-protein interactions.
Bright Red Fluorescent Protein Created
Scientists have created a bright red, fluorescent protein that could be used to track essential cellular processes.
Protein Self-Regulates Abundance
Researchers have uncovered how a protein, that plays a crucial role in embryonic stem cell renewal, is regulated.
'Lab on the Skin' for Sweat Analysis
Northwestern University researchers develop a low-cost wearable electronic device that collects and analyzes sweat for health monitoring.
Building Better Nanodiscs
Researchers have improved upon the design of nanodiscs that provide an unprecedented view of viral infection.
Breast Cancer Cells Starve for Cystine
Depriving triple negative breast cancer, a treatment-resistant form of breast cancer, of cystine results in cancer cell death.
Novel Urine Test to Predict High-Risk Cervical Cancer
Preliminary studies affirm accuracy and potential cost savings to screen for virus-caused malignancy.
Protein-Folding Gene Helps Heal Wounds
Researchers identified a protein that dramatically accelerates wound healing in animal models.
Crop Yield Gets Boost with Modified Genes
Researchers increase plant proteins that result in more efficient use of sunlight.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!