Living Organ Regenerated for the First Time: Thymus Rebuilt in Mice
This article from the Science Daily talks about how scientists from the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.The team of researchers were able to rebuilt the thymus which is the organ in our body close to our heart that makes immune cells. The thymus shuts down as it ages, hence the chances of the elderly getting sick more easily. The main purpose of the thymus is to create white blood cells called T cells, which helps fight off infections. this function was restored during the treatment and the regenerated organ was observed to have a similar structure to that of a young mouse, but its not sure yet whether or not the immune system of the mice was improved.
The researchers were able to conduct this regeneration by targeting a protein that is produced by the thymus called FOXN1. FOXN1 regulates how important genes are switched on, so the researchers increased the levels of FOXN1 and instructed the cells to rebuild the organ. This research could pave the way for new therapies that can help people with damaged immune systems or people with genetic conditions that can affect the thymus. More specifically it could help patients with DiGeorge syndrome which is a genetic condition that cases underdevelopment of the thymus. Clare Blackburn, Professor of Tissue Stem Cell Biology, says that these results were helpful in paving the way for further research on specific ways to regenerate organs that will help improve the immune system. She also said that before they can test his on humans they need to perform more research to make sure that the procedure can be tightly controlled. Dr. Rob Bckle, Head of Regenerative Medicine says that the main goal of regenerative medicine is to harness the body's own repair mechanisms and manipulate it to treat diseases.
Jefi Varghese (group C)