Radiation-free stem cell transplants, gene therapy may be within reach
Researchers at Stanford and the University of Tokyo may have cracked the code to doing stem cell transplants and gene therapy without radiation and chemotherapy.
For decades, researchers have been stymied in their attempts to grow large numbers of hematopoietic stem cells in the laboratory. These rare bone marrow cells are solely responsible for generating all the cells of the blood and immune system. Difficulties in growing the cells have seriously hampered many research efforts, including those aimed at making stem cell transplantation or gene therapy in patients with certain cancers or blood disorders easier and safer. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Tokyo have cracked the code.
By tinkering with the components of the nutritive broth in which the cells are grown, the specialized molecules used to support their growth and the physical conditions under which the cells are cultivated, the researchers have shown for the first time that it’s possible to coax hematopoietic stem cells from mice to renew themselves hundreds or even thousands of times within a period of just 28 days. “This has been one of my life goals as a stem cell researcher,” said Hiromitsu Nakauchi, MD, PhD, professor of genetics at Stanford. “For 50 years, researchers from laboratories around the world have been seeking ways to grow these cells to large numbers.
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