Scientists have tricked bone marrow into releasing extra adult stem cells into the bloodstream, a technique that they hope could one day be used to repair heart damage or mend a broken bone, in a new study published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
When a person has a disease or an injury, the bone marrow mobilises different types of stem cells to help repair and regenerate tissue. The new research, by researchers from Imperial College London, shows that it may be possible to boost the body's ability to repair itself and speed up repair, by using different new drug combinations to put the bone marrow into a state of 'red alert' and send specific kinds of stem cells into action.
In the new study, researchers tricked the bone marrow of healthy mice into releasing two types of adult stem cells mesenchymal stem cells, which can turn into bone and cartilage and that can also suppress the immune system, and endothelial progenitor cells, which can make blood vessels and therefore have the potential to repair damage in the heart.
This study, funded by the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, is the first to selectively mobilise mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells from the bone marrow. Previous studies have only been able to mobilise the haematopoietic type of stem cell, which creates new blood cells. This technique is already used in bone marrow transplants in order to boost the numbers of haematopoietic stem cells in a donor's bloodstream.
The researchers were able to choose which groups of stem cells the bone marrow released, by using two different therapies. Ultimately, the researchers hope that their new technique could be used to repair and regenerate tissue, for example when a person has heart disease or a sports injury, by mobilising the necessary stem cells.
The researchers also hope that they could tackle autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, where the body
|Contact: Laura Gallagher|
Imperial College London