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High-quality cancer-killing cells created from iPS cells: researchers

KYOTO -- A medical research team here announced that it has produced cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) that kill cancer cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and confirmed that it successfully treated mice with leukemia using CTL, also known as T-killer cells.

    The method devised by the research team at Kyoto University's Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences (IFLMS) headed by Hiroshi Kawamoto, professor of immunology, is said to allow for a more efficient production of high-quality T-killer cells than was possible thus far. The team, whose research results were published in the online version of the U.S. medical journal "Cancer Research," says it is aiming to make the method of producing T-killer cells fit for clinical use.

    T-killer cells are able to identify and destroy cancer cells, and are known to be effective when administered to cancer patients. Until now, T-killer cells were taken from a patient and cultured outside the body, after which it was returned to the patient's body to do its work. But it was difficult to increase the number of T-killer cells under this method, and after a long period of culturing, the cells were sometimes too worn out that they could not be used.

    When the research team applied iPS technology to T-killer cells extracted from the blood of healthy people to make more of the cells, the new T-killer cells were found to have greater proliferating ability than the original T-killer cells.

    According to the researchers, the new T-killer cells were found to have the same efficacy as the original T-killer cells in test-tube tests. Tests using mice confirmed the new T-killer cells' efficacy in cancer treatment, and such cells also avoided mistakenly attacking normal cells, the team said.

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