New research opens door to expanding stem cells available for transplants

ScienceDaily | 8/3/2018 | Staff
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"Life-saving bone marrow transplants have been the common practice for decades, but this doesn't work for everybody," says Stowers Institute Investigator Linheng Li, Ph.D., study lead who is also co-leader of the cancer biology program at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and an affiliate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Only 30 percent of patients have a bone marrow donor match available in their families, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. More than 170,000 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed in 2018 with a blood cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma) according to the American Cancer Society.

Adult - Stem - Cells - Cords - Match

Adult stem cells from umbilical cords are more likely to be a match for more people because there are fewer compatibility requirements than for a bone marrow transplant. But adult patients need two cords' worth of blood per treatment, and there aren't enough cord units available for everyone who needs the treatment. "If we can expand cord adult stem cells, that could potentially decrease the number of cords needed per treatment. That's a huge advantage," says Li.

In the study, published online July 31, 2018, in Cell Research, researchers zeroed in on a protein that affects multiple targets and pathways involved in hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, a broader approach than other studies that focus on a single target or pathway in the process. The protein, called Ythdf2, recognizes a particular type of modification on a group of mRNAs encoding key transcription factors for hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and promotes the decay of these mRNAs within cells.

Team - Ythdf2 - Function - Mouse - Model

When the team knocked out Ythdf2 function in a mouse model or knocked down Ythdf2 function in hUCB cells, they observed increased expression of these transcription factors and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells, which are the...
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