A New Therapy for Blood-Related Diseases?

Researchers from UCLA have discovered how a protein in human bone marrow can help repair blood after an injury. The finding could pave the way for helping to make current treatments more effective for cancer and other blood-related diseases.

Chemotherapy and radiation, which are administered to millions of patients worldwide, damage the blood system and usually require a waiting period of 30 days between treatments so the blood system can repair itself.

The researchers focused on hematopoietic stem cells, building upon their previous findings to identify a new protein called pleiotrophin. That protein, they found, binds to hematopoietic stem cells, activating the blood stem cells to stimulate the recovery of our entire blood system.

Using a mouse model, the investigators administered pleiotrophin after a normally lethal dose of radiation. They found that hematopoietic stem cells and the blood system recovered faster with pleiotrophin than without it. In two thirds of the cases, the mice survived.

“We have now discovered the mechanism by which pleiotrophin can instruct blood stem cells to regenerate,” said study leader Dr. John Chute, a UCLA professor of hematology and radiation oncology and a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center.

“With this discovery, we hope to provide the basis for improving outcomes for patients with cancer or other blood-related diseases and who are undergoing highly toxic treatments.”
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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