Researchers at Cornell University announced the development of a second generation of functional, synthetic immune organoids that can be independently controlled by medical researchers. This development has many potential utilities though it hold special promise in the development of treatments for B cell lymphomas. Specifically in testing compounds with the potential to eliminate the malignization of lymphocytes and/or to increase the antibody production capacity of B-cells.
“The synthetic organ is bio-inspired by secondary immune organs like the lymph node or spleen. It is made from gelatin-based biomaterials reinforced with nanoparticles and seeded with cells, and it mimics the anatomical microenvironment of lymphoid tissue. Like a real organ, the organoid converts B cells – which make antibodies that respond to infectious invaders – into germinal centers, which are clusters of B cells that activate, mature and mutate their antibody genes when the body is under attack. Germinal centers are a sign of infection and are not present in healthy immune organs.”
The immune organoid was created in the lab of Dr. Ankur Singh at Cornell University, and resulted from an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Leandro Cerchietti, a research collaborator of the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Akhilesh Gaharwar of Texas A&M University. This collaboration between Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College is known as the P.A.Th pipeline. P.A.Th. was designed to expedite the bench to bedside approach taken by the Lymphoma Program as Weill Cornell Medical College.
For patients with B-cell lymphoma Dr. Singh commented,
“In the long run, we anticipate that the ability to drive immune reaction ex vivo at controllable rates grants us the ability to reproduce immunological events with tunable parameters for better mechanistic understanding of B cell development and generation of B cell tumors, as well as screening and translation of new classes of drugs.”
Full results for this new discovery were published online in Biomaterials, and will appear in print. Look to this space for further updates on further collaborations between Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College.