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Bone Marrow Transplants May Be Improved Thanks To Discovery Of Mechanism Underlying Human Stem Cell Migration

REHOVOT, Israel --February 5, 1999 -- In bone marrow transplantation, a patient receives a transfusion of stem cells, which migrate to the patient's bone marrow and start producing new, healthy blood. But many transplants fail because, usually, very few stemcells make their way from the blood circulation into the recipient's marrow.

In a study published in the February 5 issue of Science, a research team headed by Dr. Tsvee Lapidot of Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department has revealed key elements of the mechanism responsible for stem cell migration from circulating blood to the the bone marrow. Furthermore, the scientists managed to dramatically increase the proportion of stem cells capable of migrating to the marrow. The research was conducted in immunodeficient mice transplanted with human stem cells.

"In the future, this approach might improve the success rate of human bone marrow transplantation," Dr. Lapidot says. He conducted this research with his team members Drs. Amnon Peled, Isabelle Petit and Orit Kollet, and departmental colleagues Drs. Ofer Lider and Ronen Alon, together with Prof. Dov Zipori of the Molecular Cell Biology Department.

Bone marrow transplantation is a last-resort treatment that saves the lives of many patients with leukemia and other malignancies and blood disorders. In a transplantation, the patient's malignant or defective marrow is destroyed, and healthy stem cells are transfused intravenously into the circulation in the hope that they will find their way to the patients bones and create normal marrow. This marrow tissue daily produces hundreds of billions of blood cells, including both red blood cells, and white blood cells which protect the body from infections as part of the immune response.

No Receptor - No Migration

The Weizmann Institute scientists found that only human stem cells equipped with a certain type of receptor, called CXCR4, migrated from the circulation to the bone marrow of exper
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Contact: Julie Osler, Director of Public Affairs
JOsler@CompuServe.com
212-779-2500
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
5-Feb-1999


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