LONDON (TIP): Researchers in Germany have created a prototype of human-like bone marrow that could be used to produce blood-producing stem cells to facilitate leukaemia therapy. The breakthrough , by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart , could pave the way for producing artificial stem cells and treatment of leukaemia in 10 to 15 years. The lab-made bone marrow shows all major properties of natural marrow and could facilitate study of interaction between artificial materials and stem cells. This will help ascertain how the behaviour of stem cells is influenced by the artificial materials. Using synthetic polymers , the scientists fashioned a porous structure simulating the sponge-like make-up of bone.
They added proteinbuilding blocks similar to those found in the bone marrow matrix to anchor cells. Hematopoietic (or bloodproducing ) stem cells, which had been isolated from cord blood, were introduced into the artificial bone marrow. After a few days, the cells were found to reproduce in the artificial bone marrow. Compared to standard cell cultivation methods, more stem cells were found to retain their properties in the lab-made marrow. Blood cells, such as red or white blood cells, are continuously replaced by new ones created by the bloodproducing stem cells found in a specialized niche of the marrow . This makes the stem cells ideal for treatment of blood diseases such as leukaemia . The affected cells of the patient are replaced by healthy hematopoietic stem cells from a donor.