Autoreactive T lymphocytes are pivotal in organ-specific autoimmune diseases and contribute substantially to tissue damage in diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Immunotherapy can eliminate pathological cells but directing effective therapeutic T lymphocytes against autoreactive T cells has proved difficult. In November 11 Nature Biotechnology, Divya Jyothi and colleagues at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, USA, show that receptor-modified T cells (RMTC) can be directed against autoreactive T lymphocytes and can be uses to treat a model autoimmune disease (Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt758, November 11, 2002).

Jyothi et al. created RMTC by expressing a heterodimeric chimeric receptor that genetically links an autoantigenic peptide, its restricting MHC, and the signal transduction domain of the T-cell receptor ζ-chain. They observed that this change in receptor expression was able to redirect therapeutic T cells against cognate autoantigenspecific T cells. In addition, they showed that RMTC prevented and treated a...

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