Scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton believe they found a way to determine different classes of bone marrow stem cells. The researchers believe bone marrow stem cells found at the ends of bones are potentially more advanced at rejuvenating blood cells compared to stem cells traditionally found in bone shafts.
Bone marrow transplants are commonly performed in hospitals across Canada and around the world. Many cases result in patients being unsuitable for a bone marrow transplant, which often leads to doctors to search for possible cord blood stem cell donors.
Mick Bhatia, Director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute and primary researcher of the study, believes the research can help doctors identify improved bone marrow stem cells. Bhatia compares the different stem cells to professional athletes.
“You can have someone who can run and get to the Olympics, but there are ones that run that speed for a lot longer and a lot faster. It makes them all professional athletes, but there are different gradients.”
The McMaster team determined that stem cells at the ends of bones are in a protective niche, and receive chemical signals that dictate them to perform in a specific way than stem cells found in the middle of the bones. Preliminary studies indicate stem cells from bone ends are likely to last longer and regenerate blood cells stronger than other bone marrow stem cells that don’t receive chemical messages.
Bhatia predicts the McMaster Institute as well as other facilities will continue to research the potential benefits of bone end stem cells. Over time the team may also delve into distinguishing different types of cord blood stem cells for potential medical therapy.