Adult Stem Cells from Organism’s Own Bone Marrow

Researchers at Imperial College London have found a way to stimulate the release of adult stem cells from the organisms own bone marrow. Not only have the scientists found they can cause the release of the stem cells, they also can control which kinds of stem cells are released from bone marrow. This breakthrough may let a patients own stem cells be used in new therapeutic possibilities, such as repairing the patients heart damage or treating autoimmune diseases.

The researchers were able to selectively release two types of stem cells from bone marrow in rats: mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells. These two stem cell types can differentiate into different types of mature cells. Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate and mature into bone or cartilage. Stimulating the release of these cells could help a patient repair broken bones or sports injuries. Mesenchymal stem cells also suppress the immune system. Therefore, releasing mesenchymal stem cells may help treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Endothelial progenitor cells can differentiate and mature into endothelial cells, such as those that make up blood vessels. The selective release of endothelial progenitor cells may allow patients to repair damage in their hearts and within their cardiovascular system.

Bone marrow releases both mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells naturally, and these stem cells are already known to help the body heal. This study has shown that certain drugs can stimulate healthy rats to release up to one hundred times more of these stem cells. Next, scientists will need to determine if large scale releases of mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells really do help the rats repair injuries and diseases faster than they would heal with the normal number of stem cells released. If the answer is yes, then scientists can begin studying the implications in humans, too.

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