London: UCLA researchers have discovered a type of cell that is the “missing link” between bone marrow stem cells and all the cells of the human immune system.The finding may help explain how a healthy immune system is produced and how disease can lead to poor immune function.The studies were done using human bone marrow, which contains all the stem cells that produce blood during postnatal life.The research team was “intrigued to find this particular bone marrow cell because it opens up a lot of new possibilities in terms of understanding how human immunity is produced from stem cells throughout life,” said study senior author Dr. Gay Crooks, co-director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and a co-director of the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology program at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.Understanding the process of normal blood formation in human adults is a crucial step in shedding light on what goes wrong during the process that results in leukemia, or cancer of the blood.Before this study, researchers had a fairly good idea of how to find and study the blood stem cells of the bone marrow. The stem cells live forever, reproduce themselves and give rise to all the cells of the blood. In the process, the stem cells divide and produce intermediate stages of development called progenitors, which make various blood lineages like red blood cells or platelets.
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