German scientists create artificial bone marrow

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 01:46
Pic Courtesy: C. Lee-Thedieck/KIT

Zee Media Bureau

In a step that would change the treatment of leukaemia in coming days, German scientists have developed artificial bone marrow that may be used to make hematopoietic stem cells.

The porous structure, developed by the Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, and Tubingen University, has essential properties of bone marrow that allows stem cells to multiply.

Researchers said this might help in treating leukaemia in a few years.

Blood cells, such as erythrocytes or immune cells, are continuously replaced by new ones supplied by haematopoietic stem cells located in a specialised niche of the bone marrow.

Hematopoietic stem cells can be used for the treatment of blood diseases, such as leukaemia. The affected cells of the patient are replaced by healthy hematopoietic stem cells of an eligible donor.

However, not every leukaemia patient can be treated in this way, as the number of appropriate transplants is not sufficient.

This problem might be solved by the reproduction of haematopoietic stem cells. So far, this has been impossible, as these cells retain their stem cell properties in their natural environment only, i.e. in their niche of the bone marrow. The properties are modified outside of this niche.

Therefore, stem cell reproduction requires an environment similar to the stem cell niche in the bone marrow.

The team, headed by Dr. Cornelia Lee-Thedieck, artificially reproduced major properties of natural bone marrow at the laboratory.

Researchers created a porous structure simulating the sponge-like structure of the bone in the area of the blood-forming bone marrow with the help of synthetic polymers. They added protein building blocks similar to those existing in the matrix of the bone marrow for the cells to anchor.

They also inserted other cell types from the stem cell niche into the structure in order to ensure substance exchange.

Researchers then introduced haematopoietic stem cells isolated from cord blood into this artificial bone marrow. Subsequent breeding of the cells took several days.

Analyses with various methods revealed that the cells really reproduce in the newly developed artificial bone marrow. Compared to standard cell cultivation methods, more stem cells retain their specific properties in the artificial bone marrow.

Scientists can now use the newly developed artificial bone marrow that has major properties of natural bone marrow to study the interactions between materials and stem cells in detail at the laboratory. This will help in finding out how the behaviour of stem cells can be influenced and controlled by synthetic materials.  

With Agency inputs



First Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 01:38

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