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New Technique of Stem Cell Expansion is Developed

Stem cells are multi purpose cells. They have the ability to get converted into any particular cell type depending upon the requirement of a region in the body. It is for this special quality of these cells that they are preserved with utmost care. The umbilical cord is the universal source of stem cells. But there are limited number of stem cells in these cords. Moreover, it is not easy to expand stem cells. Scientists all over the world should try to develop artificial means of stem cell production, expansion and regeneration, but with limited success. But scientists at Duke University Medical Center, have discovered that adding a naturally available chemical substance called pleiotrophin, can stimulate ten fold expansion of stem cells. The experiment was carried out on experimental mice in the laboratory and the results of the finding are published in the journal Nature Medicine. This article tries to gain further insight on this finding.

Knowledge Gained From Research:

  • Stem cells are produced in the soft and spongy central section of our bones called the bone marrow.
  • But the production of these stem cells is very less in number and availability of these cells in abundance can resolve a plethora of medical complications.
  • As a research effort to artificially expand stem cells, researchers at the Duke university added the chemical substance pleiotrophin to the stem cells obtained from the bone marrow of experimental mice.
  • These experimental mice received bone marrow-suppressive radiation too.
  • It was found that pleiotrophin stimulated the growth of stem cells by ten folds and also initiated the process of stem cell generation in the experimental mice.
  • The study also revealed that adding pleiotrophin does not convert stem cells into malignant cancer cells.
  • Researchers believe patients recovering after undergoing cancer treatment techniques like chemotherapy and radiation therapy will be most benefited by this discovery.
  • Patients who undergo organ transplantation will also be benefited by this artificial technique of stem cell expansion.
  • Further research is focussed on finding whether pleiotrophin is required for the normal development of stem cells or not.
  • The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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