New research sheds light on how stem cells turn into blood cells

March 5, 2009

Researchers funded by the Canadian Cancer Society have discovered how certain messages that are carried within stem cells can trigger those cells to become blood cells. The findings are published online today in Cell Stem Cell.

"This finding is exciting because it may provide a new way to make blood from human stem cells that could be used to regenerate the blood system in patients, including those with leukemia or those undergoing cancer treatments that indirectly destroy the immune and blood system," says Dr. Christine Williams, Director of Research Programs at the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.

This is the first time researchers have been able to show the importance of one particular cell pathway - known as the noncanonical Wnt pathway - in prompting stem cells to specialize and become blood cells. The pathway appears to organize the stem cells so that they can respond to signals telling them what to turn into.

Dr. Mick Bhatia, who led the study, received a $750,000 grant from the Canadian Cancer Society for this research. "By directing cell differentiation, this method provides the most efficient way to produce blood cells that we are aware of to date," he says. Dr. Bhatia is director of the McMaster University Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

Stem cells are the building blocks of every organ and tissue in the body. These cells have the remarkable ability to become any type of cell in the body including bone, muscle and blood cells.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society

Explore further: A fast cell sorter shrinks to cell phone size

Related Stories

A fast cell sorter shrinks to cell phone size

September 22, 2015

Commercial fluorescence activated cell sorters have been highly successful in the past 40 years at rapidly and accurately aiding medical diagnosis and biological studies, but they are bulky and too expensive ($200,000 -$1,000,000) ...

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.