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

March 10, 2016 , University of Edinburgh
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. Credit: The University of Edinburgh

People with leukaemia could be helped by new research that sheds light on how the body produces its blood supply.

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

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

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

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.

Scientists say this fundamental understanding of early development may also have an impact on other diseases that affect blood formation and supply.

Provided by University of Edinburgh