Weekly roundup: CAR-T cells, exosomes, trout cloning

My weekly roundups of biomedical news tend to focus on stem cells, but I read more broadly so it’s not just stem cells but also CAR-T cells and a lot more this week.

CAR-T cells as senolytics?

A team led by Scott Lowe has a new intriguing paper in Nature on using CAR-T cells to target senescent cells. The paper is entitled, “Senolytic CAR T cells reverse senescence-associated pathologies”. The core idea here is that CAR-T cells can be used to get rid of senescent cells and that removing these cells may tend to reverse aging. This brings us to the term “senolytics“, which refers to drugs in a general sense that reverse senility or aging to be more precise.

Amor et al 3h Nature CAR-T cells aging
Amor et al Fig. 3h Nature. CAR-T cells traffic to the liver in mice with fibrosis, potentially counteracting aging.

The team basically did this, “We identify the urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR)11 as a cell-surface protein that is broadly induced during senescence and show that uPAR-specific CAR-T cells efficiently ablate senescent cells in vitro and in vivo.”

They then showed that this approach reversed some potential surrogates (e.g. liver fibrosis as seen in Fig 3h above) of aging in mice. It’s a nice study, but the home-run experiment is missing.

Surprisingly they did not report data on whether the CAR-T cells actually extended the life of mice. We also don’t know if something like this would work in humans.

CAR-T cells are getting much more attention for diseases other than cancer, including for COVID-19. See, for example, this review article by Carl June and Sangya Agarwal.

Scientific American on exosomes

The article is a solid take on the promise and problems with translating exosomes to the clinic.

It’s entitled, “Inside the stem-cell pharmaceutical factory.” I think it would have used a little more skepticism though, such as about the Capricor efforts in this area, but overall has a much more balanced tone than most media pieces on the regenerative sphere.

Trout cloning via stem cells

Japan team succeeds in spawning 1,700 trout from one using stem cells

Celeb gets stem cells for COVID-19

Nick Cordero receiving stem cell treatment days after wife was told he may not survive coronavirus fight, from Fox News. This is for COVID-19 and at Cedars-Sinai in LA. What stem cells and from where? What’s the rationale here? Since this has been so much in the media I emailed Cedars-Sinai to ask if they could provide more information on the type of stem cells, source, etc., but they replied that they couldn’t due to patient privacy policies.

I wish Mr. Cordero well. He’s had an extremely bad, near-fatal case of COVID-19.

Cancer, Stem cell and other pubs

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