Researchers succeed in multiplying blood cells in the lab

Apr 16, 2009

A team from the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at Université de Montréal has succeeded in producing a large quantity of laboratory stem cells from a small number of blood stem cells obtained from bone marrow. The multidisciplinary team, directed by Dr. Guy Sauvageau, thus took a giant step towards the development of a revolutionary treatment based on these stem cells. This worldwide first will advance stem cell research and could have major implications in several fields for which no treatment currently exists.

Every year in North America, nearly 4,000 people wait in vain for a transplant due to the lack of compatible donors. It is known that a bone marrow stem cell transplant can reconstitute the recipient's bone marrow. The main difficulty is to obtain a sufficient number of compatible stem cells. Thanks to Dr. Sauvageau and his team, these patients will be able to obtain new bone marrow within the next few years. "It could be possible to envision transplants for all adults from existing umbilical cord blood banks. The stem cell content of these blood banks is currently too limited for large-scale use in adults," Dr. Sauvageau affirmed.

Organ transplants without side effects: the medicine of the future?

Currently, transplant recipients are condemned to take medications against rejection of the transplanted organ and suffer the side effects for the rest of their lives. However, "mouse studies exist, showing that bone marrow stem cells can prevent the rejection typically directed against solid organs," Dr. Sauvageau said.

Rejection occurs because the immune system cells manufactured by bone marrow attack the transplanted organ as if it were an invader. By extrapolation from laboratory studies, it is very likely that transplanting hematopoietic stem cells collected from the organ donor and developed in the laboratory could avoid rejection of this organ. This is why it is important to have large quantities of hematopoietic stem cells, so that compatible stem cells can be matched with the organ to be transplanted.

Using proteins to multiply stem cells

To produce large quantities of hematopoietic stem cells in the laboratory, Dr. Sauvageau's team identified 10 proteins out of 700 candidates. These 10 proteins are naturally present in hematopoietic stem cells and researchers can use each of them to force these cells to multiply in the laboratory. "The next step is to verify whether this also works in humans. Everything is already in place," Guy Sauvageau pointed out. These tests will be conducted at Montreal's Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, one of the leading centres in Canada where stem cell transplants are performed. "If only one of the ten proteins allows hematopoietic stem cells to be multiplied in humans, we will be able to obtain the quantities of cells necessary to perform transplants. It will then be possible to say "mission accomplished"."

Researchers around the world are currently trying to harness the regenerative power of other types of to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's or diabetes. IRIC's research could also help them achieve their goal.

The work of Dr. Sauvageau's team has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the findings are being published today in the prestigious scientific journal Cell.

Source: University of Montreal (news : web)

Explore further: Missing protein restored in patients with muscular dystrophy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Molecule dictates how stem cells travel

Jan 14, 2006

U.S. researchers have defined a molecule that dictates how blood stem cells travel to the bone marrow and establish blood and immune cell production.

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

Aug 20, 2014

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

Aug 20, 2014

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0