b1This image shows the formation of blood stem cells inside the embryonic vessel called dorsal aorta. In green is shown secreted molecule called NOGGIN, which plays an important role in this process – University of Edinburgh

Blood stem cells study could pave the way for new cancer therapy

Leukemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.

Many types of leukemia exist. Some forms of leukemia are more common in children while others occur mostly in adults.

Leukemia usually involves the white blood cells. Your white blood cells are potent infection fighters — they normally grow and divide in an orderly way, as your body needs them. But in people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which do not function properly.

Treatment for leukemia can be complex, it depends on the type of leukemia and other factors.

People with leukemia could be helped by new research that sheds light on how the body produces its blood supply. Enabling scientists to grow the stem cells artificially from pluripotent stem cells could also lead to the development of personalized blood therapies, researchers say.

Scientists are a step closer to creating blood stem cells that could reduce the need for bone marrow transplants in patients with cancer or blood disorders.

Enabling scientists to grow the stem cells artificially from pluripotent stem cells could also lead to the development of personalized blood therapies, researchers say.

Blood stem cells are found in bone marrow and produce all blood cells in the body. These cells, known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) -help to restore blood supply in patients who have been treated for leukemia.

Researchers used a mouse model to pinpoint exactly how HSCs develop in the womb. They showed for the first time how three key molecules interact together to generate the cells, which are later found in adult bone marrow.

The discovery could help scientists to recreate this process in the lab, in the hope that HSCs could one day be developed for clinical use.

The research has been published in Nature Communications.

Professor Alexander Medvinsky, of the University of Edinburgh's MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine said: "There is a pressing need to improve treatments for diseases like leukemia and this type of research brings us a step closer to that milestone. The more we understand about how embryos develop these blood stem cells, the closer we come to being able to make them in the lab".

References:

  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310111551.htm
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukemia/basics/definition/con-20024914
  • http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/news/blood-stem-cells-study-could-pave-way-new-cancer-therapy
  • http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoe-bsc031016.php