MIT's Technology Review reports on a study, published in PNAS, in which researchers were able to show that putting an RNA-based toggle mechanism in human T cells would allow specific drugs to determine cell growth. Technology Review's Emily Singer says the researchers are ultimately aiming to integrate the technology into T cell therapeutics currently in clinical testing. In 2007, Stanford University bioengineer Christina Smolke developed the RNA switch using synthetic biology tools, Singer writes, and it is designed to turn on the expression of a certain gene in response to certain chemicals. Now, Smolke and her collaborators are introducing the switch into T cells. The switch's RNA sensor responds to asthma drug theophylline and triggers production of an immune molecule responsible to T cell growth, Singer adds. Because the switch is made from RNA, and not proteins, it could avoid triggering an attack from the immune system, an existing problem with modified T cells.
Control Over T Cells, Synthetically, Though
May 04, 2010