Immune systems created with stem cells

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have transplanted stem cells that create new blood into the bone marrow of mice, advancing a new process that could eventually cure autoimmune and genetic blood disorders. By transplanting the stem cells into mice, the researchers were able to essentially create new immune systems. The use of stem cells to create replacement immune systems has a long way to go before it can be demonstrated in humans, but it has enormous potential in fighting some of the world's most difficult diseases. In multiple sclerosis, for example, a person's immune system cells attack the victim's body. A replacement immune system could prevent that from happening. Irving Weissman, MD, and co-first author Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD, say they developed a technique that eliminated the original blood-forming cells without damaging other cells in the bone marrow.

"It is essentially a surgical strike against the blood-forming stem cells," said Weissman, the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research.

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