08 January 2009 by Andy Coghlan
Stem cells, we all know what they are and if we don’t well here is a brief introduction. Stem cells which are found in multicellular organisms, divide and separate into a diverse range of specialized cells, they can self – renew themselves and produce more cells in the process. Similar to a starfish. They are widely used in medicine. Patients who are usually treated by stem cells get them from a donor, but new research has shown that specific drugs when injected into the body can release very specific stem cells from the bone marrow. This discovery has lead to many patients being treated faster and being able to heal quicker, as the body itself would produce the same stem cells needed to repair broken bones, ligaments and even cardiac tissue. Since the body usually rejects any foreign objects , the stem cells would work perfectly because it is being produced by the body itself. Using this method can also over come ethical objections.
Sara Rankin of Imperial college London , is a member of the team that discovered this method, she describes it as promoting self – healing. Stem cells have been recorded to develop into new erythrocytes , but never before have they been able to regenerate new tissue and this leads to a wider range of treatment.
Started with two types of cells.
In order for Rankin and her team to test this method, they first needed a test that had been used previously, because as stated before stem cells were known to grow into new erythrocytes. So using test mice they administered a natural growth factor which lasted for four days, after the drug Mozobil was injected and this released the cells that were located in the bone marrow into the bloodstream. Granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF) was then administered to the mice followed by Mozobil. Now this procedure isn’t a new one as it was already used in patients who underwent treatment for lymphoma. Bascially what the drug did when paired wit the factor was produce more blood stem cells, so much more that the new blood cells can replace those that were lost due to the cancer.
Now the real test was to see if when paired with other factors if the drug would have the same effect. And fortunately it did, the procedure worked out on behalf of two different types of stem cells. When the drug was preceded by the vascular endothelial growth factor ( VEGF) the two types of stem cells that came into play were:
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which regenerates bone and tissues
Epithelial progenitor cells ( EPCs) which can stimulate the growth and repair of blood vessels.
Even though this has been a huge break through, sometimes things always don’t go the way you planned. While the procedures worked well individually they don’t like working together so the production of one type of cell can block the production of another type of cell. For example GCSF-based treatment blocks the production of MSCs for tissue repair. Even though this was unfortunate it isn’t the end , as with any thing that is worth it in life it would not be easy to achieve and further research with different factors can produce different results. Who knows what the bone marrow entails, only time will tell.
Just this one research project has lighted some sparks in the eyes of fellow scientists. Robert Lanza, chief scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester Massachusettes even proposed an idea that the stem cells can be used to grow new organs, and by using the Mozobil drug stimulate the grow of blood vessels, which would provide the newly formed organ with a blood supply.
This has been the end of my second published paper review I do hope that you found it to be interesting and very informative, even inspiring as fellow scientists in the making. Please show your appreciation by clicking the like button! Thank you 😀