Use of Immunocamouflaged Cells in Transfusion and Transplantation Medicine
Dr. Mark Scott has pioneered the immunocamouflage of red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets. This novel, patented technology relies on the chemical attachment of biologically safe polymers on cell membranes to camouflage cell surface antigens.
Why is this important?
Immunocamouflaged cells and tissues hold great therapeutic promise in transfusion and transplantation medicine. For example, immunocamouflaged red blood cells could meet the often urgent needs of chronically transfused patients who have alloimmunization and for whom matched donors can be nearly impossible to find. Dr. Scott’s research has yielded over 20 issued and pending patents in the fields of bioengineering, hematology, immunology, virology and redox biology.
Immunocamouflage is a non-immunogenic barrier that prevents the recognition of antigenic sites on the cell membrane by pre-existing antibodies - hence preventing immunological rejection - and significantly diminishes the immunogenicity of the foreign cellular epitopes. Ongoing projects within the laboratory include the modification of red blood cells to prevent alloimmunization in the chronically transfused (e.g., sickle cell, thalassemic, autoimmune hemolytic anemia) patient; the prevention of graft versus host disease via lymphocyte modification; the induction of tolerance by pre-exposure to immunocamouflaged allogeneic cells; and the modification (PEGylation) of platelets to enable their storage at 4 °C. Currently, platelets must be stored at room temperature since transfusion of cold storage-activated platelets leads to rapid clearance of these cells within the recipient. Cold storage could prolong the shelf-life of platelets and improve their safety by minimizing bacterial growth.