Scientists have devised a way to destroy blood stem cells in mice without using chemotherapy or radiotherapy, both of which have toxic side effects.
Blood stem cell transplantation, widely known as bone marrow transplantation, is a powerful technique that potentially can provide a lifelong cure for a variety of diseases. But the procedure is so toxic that it is currently used to treat only the most critical cases.
Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have come up with a way of conducting the therapy that, in mice, dramatically lowers its toxicity. If the method eventually proves safe and effective for humans, it potentially could be used to cure autoimmune diseases like lupus, juvenile diabetes and multiple sclerosis; fix congenital metabolic disorders like “bubble boy” disease; and treat many more kinds of cancer, as well as make organ transplants safer and more successful.
“There is almost no category of disease or organ transplant that is not impacted by this research,” said Irving Weissman, MD, a co-author of the research and professor of pathology and of developmental biology at Stanford. A paper describing the technique was published Aug. 10 in Science Translational Medicine.