Cincinnati scientists have discovered how blood-regenerating stem cells move from bone marrow into the blood stream.
The finding has led to the development of
a new chemical compound that can accelerate this process (called stem
cell mobilization) in mice--which could eventually lead to more
efficient stem cell harvesting for human use.
Adult stem cell transplantation, or bone
marrow transplantation, is used during the treatment of cancer and
genetic blood diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, to restore blood
cell formation in bone marrow damaged by high-dose chemotherapy or
When blood stem cells are taken from a
matching donor and injected into the patient after radiation or
chemotherapy, the cells migrate into the bone marrow of the recipient.
The team, led by Jose Cancelas, MD, PhD,
and David Williams, MD, studied the migration of mouse stem cells to
better understand how adult cells move into the bone marrow during stem
cell transplants--or can be directed into the blood stream, where they
can be more easily harvested for use in transplant procedures.
Dr. Cancelas, lead author of the report,
published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, is director of
research at UC's Hoxworth Blood Center. Dr. Williams, the senior
author, heads experimental hematology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
The researchers discovered that by
inhibiting a group of proteins known as the RAC GTPase family in mice,
they were able to “instruct” stem cells to move from their home in the
bone marrow and into the blood stream, where they can easily be
collected. They achieved this using a drug, discovered by Cincinnati
Children's faculty member Yi Zheng, PhD, known as NSC23766.
Researching the location of and the
factors involved in stem cell movement and regeneration is important to
the development of new therapeutic tools in stem cell therapy, says Dr.
The research team also included Andrew
Lee, Rethinasamy Prabhakar, PhD, and Keith Stringer, MD, PhD. Their
work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and
the National Blood Foundation.