Combo therapy revs up stem cells to repair damage

A research team at Imperial College in London has engineered a new method that spurs bone marrow to make and release two new types of stem cells that the body can use to repair damaged bone, blood vessels and cartilage. And the team plans to launch new animal trials to further advance their work.

The treatment relies on a combination of Genzyme's Mozobil and a human growth factor, which scientists say can create a rich new stream of stem cells. Lead scientist Sara Rankin says that today the body essentially sends a single fire engine to deal with every fire-- or health crisis--that breaks out in the body. This new method has the potential to dispatch a hundred fire engines to the scene of a crisis.

"This has huge and broad implications. It's an untapped process," Rankin told the Guardian. "Suppose a person comes in to hospital having had a heart attack. You give them these drugs and stem cells are quickly released into the blood. We know they will naturally home in on areas of damage, so if you've got a broken bone, or you've had a heart attack, the stem cells will go there. In response to a heart attack, you'd accelerate the repair process."

- read the report in the Guardian
- check out the story in New Scientist