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Researchers Find Great Granddaddy of All Blood Cells

Discovery could yield targeted treatments for leukemia, bone marrow transplants

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The "great-grandparent" of all human blood cells has been identified by Stanford University researchers, who said the finding could lead to new treatments for blood cancers and other blood diseases.

The researchers said this cell, the multipotent progenitor, is the initial offspring of a blood-forming stem cell in the bone marrow that's the source of all cells of the blood. It's also believed that a mutation in the cell causes acute myelogenous leukemia.

"We can compare the leukemic stem cell to this progenitor cell and from that find out what makes the leukemic stem cell different," Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

That difference could prove to be a target for leukemia treatments, he said.

The multipotent progenitor cell may also prove important in bone marrow transplantation. Researchers can use the cell to produce all of the cells of the blood in a lab dish and then select the cells that would be most beneficial for transplantation.

The multipotent progenitor cell had been found in mice but hadn't been isolated in human blood. This finding, published in the Dec. 13 issue of Cell Stem Cell, fills an important gap in knowledge about human blood cells, the researchers wrote.

More information

America's Blood Centers has more about blood.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Stanford University, news release, Dec. 10, 2007

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