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Autologous vs Allogeneic – Why Your Cells Matter

Cooper Scullion portrait
Cooper Scullion
Marketing Coordinator

To start off, let’s define these two terms. Autologous means obtained from the same individual. Allogeneic references cells or tissues that are genetically dissimilar and immunologically incompatible. Why do these terms matter to Acorn and why do they matter to you? Because your cells will be the next currency in healthcare.

The Immune System: The Body’s Security System

Allogeneic tissues or cells can pose many risks for transplants. Conditions like acute rejection, chronic rejection, and GVHD can develop as a result. The reason for these negative responses is the immune system. The immune system is an incredibly complex system whose sole job is to make sure only native materials are in the body. Think about it ‘touchpoints’ where the immune system can recognize materials. Blood has a few of these touchpoints, organs have more, and each individual cell has hundreds. Foreign materials trigger an immune response because the touchpoints (antigens) aren’t recognized. The body then sends white blood cells, antibodies, and proteins to attack and destroy that foreign substance.

Bypassing the Security Can Pose Risks

This is the unfortunate reality in the majority of allogeneic transplantations. No two people are the same. So no two people have identical antigens. The current solution for this is prescribing transplant recipients with drugs called immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressants are drugs that suppress the immune response. The drugs are called anti-rejection medication for organ transplants. However, these suppressants do not come without their own side effects. They can increase your risk of infection and can make it more difficult to treat an infection. These same complications can be expected of allogeneic induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies. In fact, clinical trials using allogeneic iPSC do prescribe immunosuppressants.

Self Sourced Cells: Working with the Security System

At Acorn, we believe that autologous cells could be the solution. Never before has there been a way to generate specific cell lines, where the recipient is also the donor. Made possible by Nobel prize winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka’s, with the advent of iPSC’s. Cells now have the possibility to be reprogrammed into almost any cell line in the body. And iPSC’s are beginning to be paired with 3D bio-printing technology. Because of this, allogeneic transplants and therapies may shortly be an element of the past. Acorn’s regard for iPSC technology and the future of medicine is evident in our efforts. We aim to provide a bank of youthful autologous cells using cryopreservation. As medicine begins to transition to autologous therapies we hope to be apart of this exciting future.