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 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ 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

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
HIV Particles Used to Trap Intact Mammalian Protein Complexes
Belgian scientists from VIB and UGent developed Virotrap, a viral particle sorting approach for purifying protein complexes under native conditions.
Potential “Good Fat” Biomarker
New method to measure the activity of energy consuming brown fat cells could ease the testing weight loss drugs.
Computational Model Finds New Protein-Protein Interactions
Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have discovered 500 new protein-protein interactions (PPIs) associated with genes linked to schizophrenia.
New Insights into Gene Regulation
Researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of a gene repression complex that is known to play a role in cancer.
Controlling RNA in Living Cells
Modular, programmable proteins can be used to track or manipulate gene expression.
Soy Shows Promise as Natural Anti-Microbial Agent
Soy isoflavones and peptides may inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses, according to a new study from University of Guelph researchers.
Potential Target for Revolutionary Antibiotics
An international team of including the Lomonosov Moscow State University researchers discovered which enzyme enables Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) to breathe.
DNA Barcodes Gone Wild
A team of researchers at University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre and Sinai Health System’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) has developed a new technology that can stitch together DNA barcodes inside a cell to simultaneously search amongst millions of protein pairs for protein interactions.
Biomarkers for Profiling Prostate Cancer Patients
Exiqon A/S has announced the publication of validation of prognostic microRNA biomarkers for the aggressiveness of prostate cancer in independent cohorts.
Grant to Fund Million Peaks Project
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a prestigious Advanced Grant to Prof. Peter Schoenmakers, Prof. Albert Polman and Prof. Huib Bakker, all three of whom work at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
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
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!