Thursday, 1 August 2013

Researchers say the "best stem cells are at the ends of the bone"

Researchers at the McMaster University, Canada  have revealed the location of human hematopoietic stem cells that may improve bone marrow transplants. The best stem cells are at the ends of the bone.

It is hoped this discovery will lead to lowering the amount of bone marrow needed for a donation while increasing regeneration and lessening rejection in the recipient patients, says principal investigator Mick Bhatia, professor and scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.


In the corresponding paper, the research team reports that human stem cells residing in the end (trabecular region) of the bones display the highest regenerative ability of the blood and immune system.

"Like the best professional hockey players, our findings indicate blood stem cells are not all equal. We now reveal the reason why -- it's not the players themselves, but the effect the arena has on them that makes them the highest scorers." said Bhatia.

Bone marrow transplants have been done for more than 50 years and are routine in most hospitals, providing a life saving treatment for cancer and other diseases including leukemia, anemia, and immune disorders.

Bhatia, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology, said that cells surrounding the best blood stem cells are critically important, as these "stem cell neighbors" at the end of the bone provide the unique instructions that give these human blood stem cells their superior regenerative abilities.

Reference
Anargyros Xenocostas, David Allen, & Armand Keating (2013). Regional localization within the bone marrow influences the functional capacity of human HSCs Cell Stem Cell 10.1016/j.stem.2013.06.015

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