For blood stem cells, the force is strong

Blood flow, nitric oxide boost production of stem cells

1:57pm, May 13, 2009

Blood stem cells grow with the flow, two new studies show.

The studies, led by independent groups at Children’s Hospital Boston, report that an embryo’s heartbeat and blood circulation stimulate the growth of blood stem cells.

The discovery could be a boon to researchers seeking to make blood stem cells for people with blood cancers, immune system disorders and other diseases that require bone marrow transplants. In children and adults, blood stem cells reside in the bone marrow. Only about a third of patients who require bone marrow transplants have matching donors.

“Basically we cannot offer optimal therapy to two-thirds of patients,” says Leonard Zon, director of the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a coauthor of one of the new studies, which appears online May 13 and in the May 15 Cell.

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