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Business News/ Science / Health/  Cambridge study shows regulatory T cells can cut organ transplant risk, boost hair regrowth: All about the ‘healer army’
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Cambridge study shows regulatory T cells can cut organ transplant risk, boost hair regrowth: All about the ‘healer army’

A new study by Cambridge scientists has proved that regulatory T cells exist as a single population of cells that travel across the body to repair damaged tissues. They can be beneficial in regrowing hair, treating organ transplant recipients, and more.

Cambridge scientists published a study on June 18, revealing that regulatory T cells exist as a single population and travel across the body to repair damaged tissues. (PEXELS)Premium
Cambridge scientists published a study on June 18, revealing that regulatory T cells exist as a single population and travel across the body to repair damaged tissues. (PEXELS)

A new study by Cambridge University scientists revealed promising information about regulatory T cells, a type of white blood cells that combat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the body.

Regulatory T cells were previously known to exist as multiple specialist populations functioning in restricted parts of the body. However, the Cambridge study, published on June 18, has nullified this notion, revealing that regulatory T cells exist instead as a single population of cells which travel across the body to repair damaged tissues. 

Cambridge scientists reached this conclusion after observing and analysing the regulatory T cells present in 48 different tissues in mice bodies. This experiment proved that the cells are not fixed or limited to specific regions, but rather move throughout the body. 

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“It's difficult to think of a disease, injury or infection that doesn’t involve some kind of immune response, and our finding really changes the way we could control this response," Professor Adrian Liston, a senior author of the paper, said.

Liston called regulatory T cells a “unified healer army" and said they possess the potential to be exercised in the treatment of numerous diseases going forward.

Using a self-designed drug, researchers have demonstrated that regulatory T cells can now be directed to a particular part of the body, increased in number, and eventually activated to block the body’s immune response and boost healing in just one area. This allows the body to treat itself in a localised manner, while the rest of the immune system functions normally. 

This finding could thus prove beneficial in creating drugs that target specific regions or organs in the body. It would be especially fruitful in the enhancement of anti-inflammatory drugs, which currently impact the entire body instead of just the pain-ridden areas. 

Regulatory T cells also fuel hair regrowth by interacting with hair tissue stem cells and facilitating their regeneration. They can thus help treat illnesses like alopecia, an autoimmune disorder where hair follicles are destroyed, resulting in hair loss. The new discovery can help improve such existing mechanisms performed by regulatory T cells. 

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Another example is that of organ transplantation. People who undergo organ transplants take immunosuppressant drugs for their remaining lives to prevent their bodies from producing a strong immune response against the transplanted organ. This leaves them prone to infections. 

However, the new findings have the potential to help create drugs that block the body’s immune response only towards the new organ, reducing the person’s vulnerability to other diseases. 

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Published: 24 Jun 2024, 05:58 PM IST
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