Could T-Cell Therapy Be the Next Advancement in Sport Injuries?

Cell therapy and regenerative medicine work in tandem with the immune system. That’s why research has now gone a step further to work with T cells. These stem cells are a type of white blood cell that impacts the overall immune system. This research first focused on cancer treatment but today, benefits are being seen for dealing with sports injuries. 

T Cell Therapy for Sports Injuries

Sports injuries impact the whole body and today’s treatments can take a toll on the body. This can harm both the immune and nervous systems which is why cell therapy now involves T cells.

Originally, research with T cells focused on destroying cancer cells. During cell therapies, these cell types use a patient’s own immune system to attack cancer tumors. T-cells are genetically engineered from a type of white blood cell and so are a form of gene therapy. First, though, a patient’s bone marrow provides T cells. Secondly, these cell types are isolated and genetically enhanced.

In general, T cell therapy can have the following benefits on injuries:

  • Relieves acute pain and reduces inflammation 
  • Deals with toxicity issues 
  • Breakthroughs for cardiac fibrosis 

Relieves acute pain and reduces inflammation 

T cells are one of the main regulators of the immune system. This system is also linked to the nervous system by pro-inflammatory cytokines. These small proteins can then activate sensitivity and pain in certain areas. During cell therapy though, the T cells produce more anti-inflammatory cytokines to reduce pain by freeing opioid peptides such as enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphin. 

Patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries could hugely benefit from these cell types. That’s because these types of injuries can cause chronic and acute changes to the immune system which is what T cells work on. These cell types are in fact an evolution from pluripotent stem cells into more tailored cellular therapies. Overall, patients have a greater chance of success because they are more likely to accept the cells into their bodies. Moreover, there are fewer adverse effects without creating a toxic environment. 

Deals with toxicity issues

One potential complication during cell therapy is when patients experience a toxic reaction that can lead to neurological issues. Sometimes cell therapy overstimulates the body’s immune system. This then creates a toxic environment for any injected stem cell.  

T cells have huge potential opportunities because they reduce toxicity effects. Doctors do this by introducing a suicide gene for the T cell to destroy itself under the right circumstances during cell therapy.

Breakthroughs for cardiac fibrosis 

It’s well-known that exercise is good for the heart by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Nevertheless, data now shows that athletes can take the body too far and are at greater risk of cardiac fibrosis. The effects of such impaired heart muscle function lead to difficulty in breathing and eventually heart failure.

T cell therapy is looking very promising for cardiac fibrosis. The process involves creating engineered T cells, or CAR T cells, that circulate to the heart. Once there, the T cells reduce the fibroblast, connective tissue cell, activation protein. This T cell therapy significantly reduces cardiac fibrosis with the potential for a full recovery. 

Future Studies for T Cell Therapy

Commercializing T cell therapy creates challenges on an economic, manufacturing, and logistical level, as detailed below: 

  • Manufacturing  
  • T cell therapy dosages 


First, producing such sensitive and specific cells is currently a highly manual process. Of course, technologies are currently being investigated to automate some of the steps but they need to be economically viable first. Moreover, controlling a sterile production process and ensuring sterility at the end poses another range of challenges. In fact, most antibacterial agents introduced to kill bacteria at the end of the process, also destroy T cells.

Currently, various companies are investigating to manufacture in closed, sterile, and automated environments. Moreover, there are high costs for installing and scaling up manufacturing facilities. 

T cell therapy dosages

Safety issues are always a concern for the medical sector. Moreover, engineered T cells are complex products that have great potential but can also cause harm. That’s why the suicide gene was invented but the right dosages for patients are also critical. Accidental overdosing can even lead to tumors because cells continue to replicate themselves after cell therapy. 

Key Takeaways for T Cell Therapy in Sports Injuries 

T cell therapy is an exciting opportunity for sports injuries because of the impact on the immune system and the ability of the body to recover. There are still some challenges for research and clinical trials will need to continue to ensure quality and safety for patients. Then, manufacturers also need to meet their economic needs with a viable business model to distribute effectively. Anyone in the field knows that this work is the way forward though and will ease many people’s pain and suffering in the future.