Researchers discover way to save blood from ravages of chemo treatment

October 19, 2012
The image on the left is from a mouse that is normal. The image on the right is from a mouse treated with chemotherapy. The two blue cells are white blood cells; the red cells are red blood cells

(Medical Xpress)—Chemotherapy kills blood cells as well as cancer cells, often with fatal results. Now Yale stem cell researchers have identified a method they hope one day will help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy maintain a healthy blood supply, they report in the Oct. 18 issue of the journal Cell Reports.

The team, under the direction of Jun Lu, assistant professor of genetics at the Yale Stem Cell Center and Yale Cancer Center, studies how blood cells regenerate. Lu is particularly interested in roles played by tiny bits of genetic material called microRNAs in the production of blood and the function of blood stem and progenitor cells, which help determine the type of blood cell created. Chemotherapy kills these types of , making it difficult for blood to regenerate. While can be replaced by transfusions, and platelets often do not recover well, leaving cancer patients prone to infections and bleeding.

Using a novel technique to analyze simultaneously large numbers of microRNAs in living mice, the researchers identified several that are involved in blood formation. When they disabled one of these microRNAs, miR-150, they found that mice were able to more efficiently regenerate white cells and platelets depleted by chemotherapy. Mice without this microRNA showed no ill health effects. Conversely, mice with active miR-150 had difficulty generating new blood cells.

"We hope that finding specific microRNAs involved in blood formation will provide us ways not only to help cancer patients survive chemotherapy, but to make chemotherapy more efficient," Lu said.

Explore further: Surprise finding redraws 'map' of blood cell production

Related Stories

Surprise finding redraws 'map' of blood cell production

January 31, 2012
A study of the cells that respond to crises in the blood system has yielded a few surprises, redrawing the 'map' of how blood cells are made in the body.

Fish oil reduces effectiveness of chemotherapy

September 12, 2011
Researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, have discovered a substance that has an adverse effect on nearly all types of chemotherapy - making cancer cells insensitive to the treatment. Chemotherapy ...

Recommended for you

Drug found that induces apoptosis in myofibroblasts reducing fibrosis in scleroderma

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found that the drug navitoclax can induce apoptosis (self-destruction) in myofibroblasts in mice, reducing the spread of fibrosis in scleroderma. In their paper ...

How defeating THOR could bring a hammer down on cancer

December 14, 2017
It turns out Thor, the Norse god of thunder and the Marvel superhero, has special powers when it comes to cancer too.

Researchers track muscle stem cell dynamics in response to injury and aging

December 14, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes the biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury. The findings, published in Cell Stem Cell, ...

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Study confirms link between the number of older brothers and increased odds of being homosexual

December 12, 2017
Groundbreaking research led by a team from Brock University has further confirmed that sexual orientation for men is likely determined in the womb.

Potassium is critical to circadian rhythms in human red blood cells

December 12, 2017
An innovative new study from the University of Surrey and Cambridge's MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, has uncovered the secrets of the circadian rhythms in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.