Stem cell detection can improve treatments for leukemia and other diseases

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The inability to take human blood stem cells, or hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), to self-renew in the lab is hampering the process of treating leukemia and other blood diseases.

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Scientists have found a way to increase blood stem cell's ability to renew itself.

Now, a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) suggests that the answer may lie in a specific protein – activation can greatly expand HSC in culture.

The UCLA team discovered that a protein called MLLT3 is the main regulator of HSC function. Proteins are present at high levels in the fetus, newborns and adults. However, HSC cultured had low MLLT3 levels.

Recently nature In the report, the researchers reported how the manipulation of the gene responsible for making proteins led to a 12-fold expansion of the graftable HSC.

The study's lead author is Hanna K. A. Mikkola, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at UCLA. She studied HSC for more than 20 years.

"Although we have learned a lot about the biology of these cells over the years," Mikkola said, "one key challenge remains: to make (HSC) renew itself in the laboratory."

"We have to overcome this obstacle to bring the field forward," she added.

HSC needs strong self-copying ability

All body tissues and cells rely on blood cells for nourishment and protection. To complete such a relentless and tiring task, the blood cells must be able to …



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