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mRNA injection to make CAR T cells

An experimental immunotherapy can temporarily reprogramme patients’ immune cells to attack a specific target via a single injection of messenger RNA (mRNA), similar to the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, according to a new study.

University of Pennsylvania researchers demonstrated the new approach with an mRNA preparation that reprogrammes T cells to attack heart fibroblast cells.

Heart failure is often driven in part by these fibroblast cells, which respond to heart injury and inflammation

by chronically overproducing fibrous material that stiffens the heart muscle, impairing heart function.

In experiments in mice that model heart failure, the reduction in cardiac fibroblasts caused by the reprogrammed T cells led to a reversal of fibrosis.

The new technique is based on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell technology, which, until now, has required the harvesting of a patient’s T cells and their genetic reprogramming to recognise markers on specific cell types in the body.

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