At Cornell University, scientists managed to create fully synthetic immune organoids capable of generating antibodies on their own. These work very much like the immune systems of animal, but are completely external and do not depend on being part of a living, breathing body. The hope is that these organoids will help in the development of new immune therapies to tackle a variety of diseases that at the moment have no cure.
The organoids in many aspects were modeled on lymphoid tissue and consist of a hydrogel, nanoparticles, and a seeding of living cells. They are able to convert antibody producing B cells into germinal centers, a sort of antibody gene factories that mutate, differentiate, and produce the genes that are able to create the necessary antibodies to fight specific infections.
The scientists are able to control this process, tweaking how fast the B cells grow, mutate, and activate to fight disease.
The hope is that these organoids will serve as platforms to study our bodies’ immune response and to develop new therapies to attack cancers, HIV and other infectious diseases, or even autoimmune disorders.
From the study abstract in journal Biomaterials:
Here we describe a B cell follicle organoid made of nanocomposite biomaterials, which recapitulates the anatomical microenvironment of a lymphoid tissue that provides the basis to induce an accelerated germinal center (GC) reaction by continuously providing extracellular matrix (ECM) and cell-cell signals to naïve B cells. Compared to existing co-cultures, immune organoids provide a control over primary B cell proliferation with ∼100-fold higher and rapid differentiation to the GC phenotype with robust antibody class switching.
Study in Biomaterials: Ex vivo Engineered Immune Organoids for Controlled Germinal Center Reactions…