A team from the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at Universit de Montral 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 bone marrow 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
|Contact: Carolyne Lord|
University of Montreal