TORONTO, July 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time since stem cells were discovered here 50 years ago, scientists have isolated a human blood stem cell in its purest form – as a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system. This breakthrough opens the door to harnessing the power of these life-producing cells to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases more effectively.
The research is published today in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.1201219).
"This discovery means we now have an increasingly detailed road map of the human blood development system including the much sought after stem cell," says principal investigator John Dick, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and is a Senior Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network (UHN).
"We have isolated a single cell that makes all arms of the blood system, which is key to maximizing the potential power of stem cells for use in more clinical applications. Stem cells are so rare that this is a little like finding a needle in a haystack."
Dr. Dick, who pioneered the field of cancer stem cells with previous discoveries in human leukemia and colon cancer, also developed a way to replicate the entire human leukemia disease process using genetically engineered mice. As well as being a Senior Scientist at UHN's Princess Margaret and Toronto General Hospitals, he is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, and Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
Dr. Dick works out of UHN's Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) – the venerable institution where stem-cell science began in 1961 with the original discovery of Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch – and McEwen Centre fo
|SOURCE Ontario Institute for Cancer Research|
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