Living drugs could be a game changer in fighting immune-based diseases

Research Excellence | Strategy 10: Research Culture
Theme: Innovation
This UBC team is researching cell-based therapies, one of the most exciting things happening in medicine today. From left: graduate student Christine Wardell, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Manjurul Haque, team lead Dr. Megan Levings and graduate student Macyn Leung

Dr. Megan Levings and her team at UBC are engineering cell-based therapies that could transform the way we treat everything from Type 1 diabetes to multiple sclerosis

We often treat immune-based diseases with drugs that help alleviate symptoms. But what if we could target the root cause of these diseases by modifying our body’s cells instead?

That’s what Dr. Megan Levings and her team are researching at UBC. Cell-based therapies are one of the most exciting things happening in medicine today, and the team already has proof of concept that T regulatory cell therapy works in the lab. The next step is to see how it could benefit humans.

“The potential for T regulatory cell therapy is huge,” says Dr. Levings, a Professor in UBC’s Department of Surgery and School of Biomedical Engineering. “It could be transformative for human health. Just think of all the diseases out there that are caused by too much inflammation.”

These include classic autoimmune diseases such Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other diseases that involve an immune response include Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular diseases. Cell therapy could also help make organ transplants safer by training the immune system to tolerate invaders.

Read the full article on Beyond.

Through Strategy 10: Research Culture, UBC is working to develop the principles and practices that define a collaborative and inclusive research culture and that support mentorship, scholarship, discovery and creativity.