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Distinct niches in bone marrow nurture blood stem cells
Date:2/24/2013

niche for developing blood cells in the bone marrow. There's a distinct niche for stem cells, which have the ability to become any blood cell in the body, and a separate niche for infection-fighting blood cells that are destined to become T cells and B cells."

The findings provide a strong foundation for investigating whether disrupting these niches can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

In a phase II pilot study led by Washington University medical oncologist Geoffrey Uy, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Link is evaluating whether the drug G-CSF can alter the stem cell niche in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia whose cancer has recurred or is resistant to treatment. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 20 years ago to stimulate production of white blood cells in patients undergoing chemotherapy, who often have weakened immune systems and are prone to infections.

But Uy and colleagues will evaluate the drug when it is given before chemotherapy. Patients enrolled in the trial at the Siteman Cancer Center will receive G-CSF for five days before chemotherapy, and the investigators will determine whether it can disrupt the protective environment of the bone marrow niche and make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy.

While it's too early to know whether the treatment approach will be successful, Link's new research in mice is bolstered by a companion paper in the same issue of Nature. In that research, Sean Morrison, PhD, director of the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, used similar molecular methods to also discover distinct niches in the bone marrow for blood stem cells.

"There's a lot of interest right now in trying to understand these niches," Link adds. "Both of these studies add new information that will be important as we move forward. Next, we hope to understand how stem cell niches c
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Contact: Caroline Arbanas
arbanasc@wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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