Stem Cell Research Paves Way for Cultivation of Healthy Blood Cells

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Blood cancer, and other blood diseases, turn fatal as it has always been difficult to breed healthy blood cells in an ailing body, until now when a stem cell research has promised to make an unlimited supply of healthy blood cells from readily available cells in the blood vessels. This research at the Weill Cornell Medicine is the first of its kind wherein generation of blood-forming stem cells is possible.

This stem cell research is not only a boon for the treatment of blood disorders, but may also go on to provide a better understanding of complex biology of stem cell self-renewal machinery, according to Dr. Shahin Rafii, a senior author of the report. This development is particularly encouraging because it can pave a path to the generation of clinically useful quantities of common stem cells, and help in curing patients with genetic as well as acquired blood diseases.

Self-renewal Property of Hematopoietic Stem Cells

The research has shown that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are the long-lasting cells that mature overtime into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, do not survive too long and must be consistently replenished. As a result, the possibilities of blood diseases such as life-threatening infections, anemia, and bleeding can occur. However, the researchers have managed to nurture an environment in which the self-renew property of HSCs to produce more healthy cells can be supported in order to cure blood diseases. Dr. Rafii recently demonstrated an efficient way to convert vascular endothelial cells into fully functional HSCs, which can be transplanted into an ailing body and infuse an apt amount of healthy blood cells for a lifetime.

Clue Came from a Nature Study

A Nature study in 2014 suggested that adult human vascular endothelial cells can be converted into hematopoietic cells, although true hematopoietic cells could not be trailed on human after successful experiment on mice. This Weill Cornell Medicine study addressed this issue by applying their conversion approach, wherein isolated vascular endothelial cells were instructed to overproduce certain proteins pertaining to blood stem-cell function. Remarkably, engraftment was achieved. The mice in this study went on to live their average lifespans and died natural deaths, without any sign of leukemia or other blood diseases.

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