Researchers are developing novel artificial bone marrow
The willingness to donate bone marrow has increased in recent years. This is good news especially for patients with blood cancer, because: donating stem cells can save lives. New research results from Swiss scientists are also giving hope. They were able to simulate human bone marrow tissue.
Stem cell donations can help leukemia patients
"In Germany alone, more than 11,000 people develop leukemia every year or suffer from other disorders in blood formation, such as B. anemia or immune defects as well as lymphomas ”, writes the German stem cell donor file on its website. "Many patients can be helped today by transferring stem cells from a healthy stem cell donor," it continues. In the future, new findings from Swiss researchers may also be of benefit to patients. The scientists have succeeded in developing a new type of bone marrow.
Billions of blood cells are formed in the bone marrow every day
Several billion blood cells are formed in the bone marrow every day. Blood stem cells, which are located in special niches in the bone marrow, ensure constant supply.
These can multiply themselves and mature into red and white blood cells that enter the blood from the bone marrow.
For years, researchers have been trying to recreate natural bone marrow in the laboratory in order to better understand the mechanisms of blood formation and to develop new therapies, for example to treat leukemia (blood cancer).
However, this has proven to be extremely difficult since the blood stem cells in conventional in vitro models lose their properties to multiply and to differentiate in different types of blood cells.
Novel artificial bone marrow
Researchers headed by Professor Ivan Martin from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel and Professor Timm Schroeder from the Department of Biosystems at ETH Zurich have now created a new type of artificial bone marrow niche in which the stem and progenitor cells have been able to multiply over several days.
According to a statement, the scientists developed an artificial tissue that mimicked some of the complex biological properties of natural bone marrow niches.
According to the information, they combined human mesenchymal stromal cells with a bone-like, porous three-dimensional framework made of ceramic in a so-called perfusion bioreactor, in which biological and synthetic materials can be combined.
This created a structure that is covered by an extracellular matrix into which cells can fit. In this aspect, the artificial tissue is molecularly very similar to the natural bone marrow niches.
In this environment, the functionality of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells was largely preserved.
Their results were recently published in the "PNAS" journal.
Tool for personalized research
The new process is also suitable for producing tailor-made bone marrow niches that have specific molecular properties and in which individual proteins can be inserted or removed.
According to the experts, this opens up a variety of perspectives: from researching factors that influence human blood formation to the screening of medications with the aim of predicting the reaction of individual patients to a particular treatment.
“We could use blood and bone marrow cells from patients to model blood disorders such as leukemia in vitro. In an environment that consists exclusively of human cells and ideally takes into account personalized, individual circumstances, ”explain Ivan Martin and Timm Schroeder. (ad)