Researchers at Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that endothelial cells, the building blocks of blood vessels, produce growth factors that can grow large amounts of adult stem cells. This discovery could help scientists find a way to manufacture an endless supply of blood related stem cells. And with an unlimited supply, patients who need bone marrow transplants could get them irrespective of whether they're able to find a genetic match.
"This study will have a major impact on the treatment of any blood-related disorder that requires a stem cell transplant," says the study's senior author, Dr. Shahin Rafii. "Most stem cells, even in the presence of multiple growth factors, serum, and support from generic non-endothelial stromal cells, die after a few days. Now, employing our endothelial stem cell co-cultures, we can propagate bona fide adult stem cells in the absence of external factors and serum beyond 21 days with an expansion index of more than 400-fold," he explains.
"This is groundbreaking research with potential application for regeneration of organs and inhibition of cancer cell growth," adds Dr. Antonio Gotto Jr., provost for medical affairs of Cornell University.
The vascular-cell model established in this study could also be used to grow abundant functional stem cells from other organs such as the brain, heart, skin and lungs. An article detailing these findings appears in the March 5 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.