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Life Span of Stem Cells is Simulated

The knowledge of the life span of stem cells is critical in bone-marrow transplantation and in cancer treatment. Earlier it was believed that these cells can grow for indefinite period of time.

But, a new computer simulation carried by the researchers from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has found that stem cells can survive from a few months to several years.
They cannot self renew themselves for the entire life span of a patient.

The results of the mathematical modeling were published in the February 28, 2011 weekly edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The simulation was carried out using the stem cells of experimental mice. The research revealed that self renewal of stem cells is regulated by maintaining a dangerous and uncertain balance. It is because excess production of these cells can lead to blood cancer and their less production can cause failure of the bone marrow transplantation.

This new finding might impact studies of other stem cell types including those for regenerative medicine. The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the research.

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