Researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute and Garvan Institute of Medical Research have uncovered the mystery of stem cell regeneration by identifying the mechanisms that trigger hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) production. HSCs found in the bone marrow and in the umbilical cord are critically important because they can replenish body’s supply of blood cells.
As such HSCs are the best therapeutic tools at modern science’s disposal because they can be used in many ways other than the current transplantation strategies to treat serious blood disorders. The only problem is that HSC cannot be produced in a laboratory setting. The latest study involved observing cells in a developing zebra fish, a tropical freshwater fish known for its regenerative abilities and optically clear embryos to gather information on the signalling process responsible for HSC production. Researchers made a detailed film on how these stem cells are formed inside the embryo by using a high resolution microscope.
While playing the film back, researchers further noticed that HSCs require a ‘buddy’ cell type known as endotome cells for formation. These endotome cells have stem cell inducing properties. Researchers believe that if they are able to find the signals present in the endotome cells responsible for HSC formation then the lead could be used in vitro to make different blood cells on demand for all sort of blood related disorder. HSCs are known to treat leukaemia patients but medical experts believe that blood stem cells have the potential to be used more widely.