MONDAY, Aug. 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- New insight into how blood-regenerating stem cells travel from bone marrow to the bloodstream is outlined in a study by scientists at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
This discovery has led to the development of a new chemical compound that accelerates this process -- called stem cell mobilization -- in mice. This research may eventually result in more efficient ways to harvest stem cells for use in humans.
The findings appear in the Aug. 6 issue of Nature Medicine.
The researchers studied the migration of mouse stem cells to gain a better idea of how adult stem cells move into bone marrow during stem cell transplants, and how the stem cells can be guided into the bloodstream so they can be more easily collected for use in transplants.
The scientists discovered that a group of proteins called the RAC GTPase family play a major role in regulating the location and movement of stem cells in bone marrow.
"Our findings demonstrate that RAC GTPase proteins are essential for injected stem cells to migrate into the correct location in the bone marrow," senior study author Dr. David Williams, head of experimental hematology at Cincinnati Children's, said in a prepared statement.
He and his colleagues also found that a drug called NSC23766, developed at Cincinnati Children's, inhibited RAC GTPase activity and let the researchers encourage stem cells to move from bone marrow into the bloodstream, where they're more easily harvested.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about stem cells.