This treatment can probably cure us.

In the other thread, about the article I posted on the forum, I was talking about the fact that adoptive immunotherapy with EBV-specific CD8 T-lymphocytes would be a good treatment for the CFS subgroup for this infection. Well, there's an article that just came out, where they've improved the treatment with own T-cells.

U.S. scientists have discovered how to quickly, accurately and cheaply generate immune cells to attack cancers and infections and to correct autoimmune diseases. The breakthrough, presented yesterday in the online edition of the journal Nature, has the potential to transform so-called cellular therapies and increase the number of people with cancer who benefit from immunotherapies.

Research has been done on T-lymphocytes, a type of immune cell that has the ability to recognize and destroy infected or cancerous cells. For decades, attempts have been made to reprogram T-lymphocytes to precisely target enemy cells. However, the difficulties of reprogramming have so far limited its use to a small number of patients.

By making lymphocyte production cheaper and faster, it can make the therapy less exceptional and more common.

"I foresee that this new technology will revolutionize the field of cellular therapies for cancer," says oncologist Antoni Ribas, co-author of the research, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). "Over the next three years, we will see the emergence of many new strategies for treating cancer based on this method.

Progress opens the way to offering immune therapy to a large number of patients

To put progress in context, it should be remembered that the reprogramming of immune cells has so far been done using viruses. Because viruses introduce their genes into the cells they infect, they are an appropriate vehicle for providing lymphocytes with the desired genes. These works have resulted in therapies such as CART, which successfully treats some blood cancers and which in Catalonia is applied in the Ari project of the Hospital Clínic.

Despite the progress made, reprogramming lymphocytes with viruses usually takes at least four months, costs around 300,000 euros and, in addition, does not make it possible to control where in the genome the genes are inserted.

In the new research, these three drawbacks have been solved by reprogramming the lymphocytes with the genetic editing technique CRISPR instead of using viruses. Theodore Roth, a doctoral student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the first author of the paper, has been instrumental in challenging a double bias. On the one hand, viruses were the best option for reprogramming lymphocytes. And above all, that the lymphocytes would die if I introduced long fragments of DNA.

Roth advanced by trial and error. "He made a Herculean effort," Alex Marson, director of research, also of UCSF, acknowledged in a statement. "He tried a thousand different conditions. Theo was convinced that, if we found the right conditions, we could overcome these prejudices that limited us.

After many attempts he found these conditions suitable. It was based on electroporation, which involves applying an electric field to the cells to increase the permeability of their membranes so that the DNA they wanted to introduce could enter. He found that if he mixed the right proportions of lymphocytes, DNA and CRISPR molecular scissors, and then exposed the mixture to an electrical field of the right intensity, the CRISPR scissors would cut the lymphocyte genome exactly at the desired point and the new genes would be fixed right there.

In a first experiment to see if the technique worked, Roth introduced the gene for a green-light protein (GFP) at different points in the lymphocyte genome. As he expected, he was able to control precisely which cell structures he wanted to give off the green light. Then, to show the potential of the new medical treatment technique, he tested it with a type of cancer and an autoimmune disease.

New technology can be useful for treating infections and autoimmune diseases

For cancer, the UCSF team partnered with Antoni Ribas, a melanoma specialist and pioneer in the clinical application of immunotherapies in oncology. The researchers provided the lymphocytes with receptors capable of identifying melanoma cells. When injected into mice with melanoma, the lymphocytes attacked the tumor cells without damaging healthy cells. Treatment reduced the size of the tumors in the treated animals and lengthened their survival. "This technique will probably be applied to the treatment of many types of cancer in the coming years," predicts Ribas.

"We are working frantically to accelerate the arrival of this technique in the treatment of patients," says Cristina Puig-Saus, co-author of the research, at UCLA. The first clinical trials are expected to begin within a year, Ribas adds.

"It is a technology that will give us a lot of flexibility to generate customised cells" for the treatment of cancer, says Alena Gros, director of the immunotherapy group at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), who has not participated in the work.

For the autoimmune disease, the UCSF researchers worked with cells from three siblings affected by a rare hereditary condition. Children have a genetic mutation that affects T cells and causes them to malfunction. Specifically, they are missing a particular subtype of T-lymphocytes called regulators, which are essential to keep other immune cells under control and prevent them from attacking tissues in the body itself - which is what defines autoimmune diseases. With the new technique of genetic editing of lymphocytes, researchers have corrected the mutation that causes autoimmune disease.

"This is a fast and flexible method that can be used to alter, boost and reprogram T cells so that we can mitigate the excessive immune response we see in autoimmune diseases," says research director Alex Marson. This opens up a new avenue of research to explore the potential of this technique for the treatment of more than 140 diseases in which T lymphocytes mistakenly attack the body itself, some of which are as prevalent as psoriasis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.

Beyond cancer and autoimmune diseases, the technique can also be useful in treating infectious diseases, as T-lymphocytes play a major role in protecting the body from infection. "We're still not sure which specific infections can be treated with reprogrammed T cells. We are working with other research groups to explore the possibility of targeting HIV and infections such as cytomegalovirus, which can cause serious complications in immunocompromised patients, including transplant recipients," Marson said in an e-mail.

"I think it can make a big difference in the treatment of infections," agrees Ribas, for whom "the technique we described opens up immense possibilities. It's like making legos. We can put and take pieces of lymphocytes, see what works and what doesn't. And we can do it quickly, easily and affordably. When a new technique appears that allows many people to use it for research, as in this case, new ideas will inevitably emerge, possible applications that we haven't even thought about.

Content of the newspaper La Vanguardia. Link:

Link to the article in Nature magazine:

If you want to know more about why this treatment would be beneficial for CFS, I recommend reading the article I posted. I will soon be making a summary so that it is much more understandable to patients.



Senior Member
East Coast USA
U.S. scientists have discovered how to quickly, accurately and cheaply generate immune cells to attack cancers and infections and to correct autoimmune diseases.
Thanks for posting this exciting breakthrough, @Manuel.

Yesterday's New York Times covered it as well: "Technique Shortens Time It Can Take to Edit Genes:"

Most encouraging is intent to apply the technique quickly-- they've started working with the FDA to use it in cancer.

Would very much like to hear Mark Davis' and Derya Unutmaz' thoughts about it!
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Senior Member
I think I read about this the other day. The only problem is that two of the researchers rushed to patent the technique in their names and that may limit treatment options and is already delaying research that some companies were engaged in to save people lives.

I'm sorry. I tried to find that article again but can't find it.
Thanks for the info, mate!!!

Without any doubt are very good news!!!!

I also believe it will for sure open a quite good therapy option, especially for those with a big pathogenic factor implicated and/or autoinmune issues.

As Gemini, also would like to read Davis and Unutmaz opinion about that!!!



Senior Member
So far CRISPR has only been able to knock EBV down by about 80%. I think that will be important:

1. For chronic EBV patients to salvage infected cells rather than killing them. This would be the only way to get them to recover once they have past a critical point of viral load (probably around 8 years of infection with EBV that turns to CFS.)

2. To reduce the amount of cells that the immune system has to kill so you can speed up treatment.