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Stem cell study offers transfusion hope

Patients needing bone marrow transplants or blood transfusions could eventually be treated with laboratory grown blood stem cells.

Microscopic image of the formation of blood stem cells (in green) in the dorsal aorta (in red)

University scientists have used blood stem cells from mice to mimic how we produce blood stem cells and were able to multiply them by 150-times.

Multiplying blood cells

The researchers hope that one day transplantable blood stem cells could be produced efficiently in the laboratory.

These could then be transplanted to patients and multiply within the body and help patients renew their blood supply.

This could help treat patients with types of cancers, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, where high doses of chemotherapy can destroy bone marrow, which produces blood stem cells.

Blood stem cells could also be transplanted in patients with genetic blood diseases or who have lost blood as a result of accidents or surgery, reducing pressure on blood donor supplies.

The research is published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

“While we are still a long way off from being able to grow blood stem cells that could be used to treat patients, this is a step forward in the right direction. We hope that understanding further the mechanisms of how blood stem cells are generated in the body will one day enable us to efficiently produce blood stem cells for needs of patients”

Professor Alexander MedvinskyMRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine