Scientists Grow Rare Blood Cells That Aid Cancer Patients
When a cancer patient undergoes intense chemotherapy or irradiation, fast-growing cancer cells die, but so do other cells, such as those that grow hair and those that make blood.
Only one in every 100,000 bone marrow cells is a stem cell that can produce blood. Because they are rare, large numbers of stem cells must be transplanted in order for some cancer treatments to be successful.
Until now, blood stem cells could not be multiplied outside the body. But a team of UW scientists, working at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, has found a way to grow stem cells from mice in the laboratory-opening the door to helping cancer patients overcome major side effects of treatment and creating greater possibilities for genetic cures of illness. Researchers at the Veterans Administration Medical Center also participated in the breakthrough.