Cell therapies developed to treat a number of conditions could be improved by a chemical compound that helps their survival, suggests research. Laboratory tests have found that the artificial molecule, a type of antioxidant, helps protect healthy cells from damage that could occur when they are transplanted into a patient during cell therapy. These procedures are already used to treat people with blood disorders and to grow skin grafts for patients with severe burns. The new compound tested is 10 times more effective in protecting cells from damage than the most powerful antioxidant found in nature, the study found. Up to 90% of cells can be damaged or killed during the transplant process. This can influence the probability of successful treatment. Experts argue that pre-treatment of cells before being transplanted into patients could help improve the success rates of cell therapies. Researchers are trying to develop such approaches to treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh exposed the cells to a toxic substance, mimicking the shock that cells experience when transplanted. They then tested whether the treatment of cells with antioxidants could protect them from damage.
They found that the new synthetic compound – called Proxison – saved up to 90% of the cells from death. Studies with zebrafish have also found that the artificial super-antioxidant can protect cells from death in a living animal. To achieve the same result more than 10 times the concentration of the most powerful natural antioxidant tested was required. Researchers are interested in knowing if antioxidants can help increase the chances that a series of cell therapies will work. Many more patients could benefit from these treatments if cell survival could be significantly improved. Proxison was developed by Aberdeen’s biotechnology company, Antoxis, which provided funding for the study. The new antioxidant was designed based on a natural compound found in fruits and vegetables, a polyphenol. The team made small changes to the chemical structure to generate a super-antioxidant that they hope to develop into a drug. Although it has the ability to scavenger ROSs like other flavonoids in a cell-free system, Proxison is an order of magnitude more powerful in protecting neural cells against oxidative stress and is able to save damaged cells.
The unique combination of a lipophilic hydrocarbon tail with a modified polyphenolic group promotes efficient cellular uptake and moderate mitochondrial enrichment. After all, mitochondria are cellular centers and are more vulnerable to exogenous insults and oxidative stress. Making them stabilized, increases the chances of better cell survival. Lead researcher Dr Tilo Kunath and professor Andy Porter of the University of Edinburgh Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine said: “We found Proxison a powerful antioxidant that is very effective in protecting cells from oxidative stress and damage to free radicals. Scientists from both the academic and commercial spheres are at the forefront of developing new cell-based therapies for a range of debilitating diseases, but there are still many hurdles to overcome before we can fully exploit the potential of this exciting approach to This excellent work in Edinburgh represents a significant step forward in removing one of these obstacles with the potential to increase the effectiveness of transplanted cells in patients and allow more patients to be treated with valuable resources”.
The entire research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
- edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.
Drummond NJ et al. Kunath T. Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 19; 7(1):11857.
Chen F et al., So KF. Cell Transplant. 2017 Sep; 26(9):1483-1495.
Mendivil-Perez M et al., Escames G. J Pineal Res. 2017 Sep; 63(2).