I think it a little much to be calling the artificial cell structures reported here T cells; the similarities are few. They are pseudo-cell-like membranes that can be decorated with surface features capable of interacting with other cell populations. The goal touted here is to influence the immune system, but in principle any sort of cell to cell communication that relies on surface decoration could be targeted in this way. Being able to build membranes that can pass for cells in the body, and thus avoid the attention of the immune system, seems more useful for the ability to hide molecular machinery inside them, however. Plasmids that can generate specific proteins, for example – a great deal might be accomplished with the ability to introduce durable protein factories into a specific tissue.
Researchers have developed synthetic T lymphocytes, or T cells, that are facsimiles of human T cells. Such cells could eventually be used to boost the immune system of people with cancer or immune deficiencies. Natural T cells are difficult to use in research because they’re very delicate, and because after they’re extracted from humans and other animals, they tend to survive for only a few days.
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