Monday, January 13, 2014

KIT Researchers Develop Artificial Bone Marrow

Artificial bone marrow may be used to reproduce hematopoietic stem cells. A prototype has now been developed by scientists of KIT, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, and Tübingen University. The porous structure possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells at the laboratory. This might facilitate the treatment of leukemia in a few years. The researchers are now presenting their work in the “Biomaterials” journal (DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.10.038).
Blood cells, such as erythrocytes or immune cells, are continuously replaced by new ones supplied by hematopoietic stem cells located in a specialized niche of the bone marrow. Hematopoietic stem cells can be used for the treatment of blood diseases, such as leukemia. The affected cells of the patient are replaced by healthy hematopoietic stem cells of an eligible donor.

However, not every leukemia patient can be treated in this way, as the number of appropriate transplants is not sufficient. This problem might be solved by the reproduction of hematopoietic stem cells. So far, this has been impossible, as these cells retain their stem cell properties in their natural environment only, i.e. in their niche of the bone marrow. Outside of this niche, .....

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