"We have found a protein (called Gfi1b) that seems to regulate the stem cells' activity level and where they reside in the bone," says Dr. Khandanpour. "In our mouse model, we were able to turn off the gene coding for Gfi1b. When we did this, the stem cells became activated, started expanding drastically, left their bone marrow niche and entered the bloodstream without losing their function. The ability to manipulate blood stem cells in this manner would significantly increase the efficiency of stem cell therapy."
According to the researchers, the inactivation of Gfi1b in the transplanted stem cells could accelerate the production of new blood cells, thus making stem cell therapy more efficient and less dangerous for the patient. However, the mechanisms regulating stem cell dormancy and mobilization are not well understood.
"Our next goal is to investigate the precise molecular mechanisms achieved by the ablation of Gfi1b, and to study in more detail how Gfi1b regulates the location and activation of blood stem cells," adds Dr. Mry. "Our project will contribute to a better understanding of the biology of stem cell mobilization and dormancy, which could lead to the design of better treatment regimens for transplant donors and patients."
According to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer every four minutes and someone dies from a blood cancer every 10 minutes. This statistic represents over 54,000 people per year. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20.
|Contact: Julie Langelier|
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal