A signalling pathway that helps to regulate the movement of blood-forming stem cells in the body is revealed in Nature. It is thought that the pathway could be pharmacologically targeted to improve transplantation efficiency.
Blood-forming stem cells, which generate the millions of new blood cells needed by the body every day, circulate around the body, shifting back and forth between the blood stream and bone marrow. However, blood-forming stem cells lacking the guanine-nucleotide-binding protein stimulatory alpha subunit (Gsa) do not home to or engraft in the bone marrow of adult mice, David Scadden and colleagues report.
At present, massive numbers of blood-forming stem cells have to be used in clinical transplants, in part owing to the limited efficiency of these cells to travel to and settle in the bone marrow. This is particularly problematic in umbilical cord blood transplants where the number of stem cells is limited. The team shows that Gsa activating drugs enhance homing and engraftment in mice, and speculates that similar strategies could be used to improve efficiency in transplants of human blood-forming stem cells.
David Scadden (Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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