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Could sleeping stem cells hold key to treatment of aggressive blood cancer?
Date:7/29/2013

ways to wake these stem cells up. This is very important as, while the cure rate for younger patients can be around 40 per cent, in older patients it is much lower. The treatments we have, such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, just aren't very successful in this older patient group."

The scientists studied the levels of haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in the bone marrow of mice transplanted with human AML. They found the numbers of normal mouse HSCs stayed the same, however what did change was that the HSCs were no longer going through the stages of development which finally results in the formation of new blood cells.

The findings were confirmed by the analysis of bone marrow from 16 patients with AML.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Although major progress has been made in treating AML over the years, there's still an urgent need for more effective treatments to improve long-term survival. This study takes us an important step forwards in our understanding of what's going on in the bone marrow of people with AML, an area that we have not known enough about previously, and the challenge now is to turn this understanding into new treatments for patients."

Dr Taussig added: "Usually when the body is stressed, the stem cells become very active. For example, if you have a haemorrhage, they will jump into action to produce more new blood cells. The cancer cells are somehow over-riding this and our next phase of work will concentrate on how they are doing this."


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Contact: Katrina Coutts
k.coutts@qmul.ac.uk
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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