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Researchers Develop Artificial Bone Marrow

Advancement could facilitate leukemia treatment (January 10)

A prototype of artificial bone marrow has been developed by scientists in Germany. According to their report, published in Biomaterials, the synthetic porous structure possesses the essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of hematopoietic stem cells in the laboratory, which might facilitate the treatment of leukemia in the future.

With the help of synthetic polymers, the scientists created a porous structure simulating the sponge-like structure of the bone in the area of blood-forming bone marrow. They also added protein building blocks, similar to those in the matrix of bone marrow, on which blood cells can anchor.

Then the researchers introduced hematopoietic stem cells isolated from cord blood into the artificial bone marrow. After several days, they found that the cells could reproduce in their new environment. Compared with standard cell-cultivation methods, more stem cells retained their specific properties in the artificial bone marrow.

The newly developed artificial marrow, which possesses the major properties of natural bone marrow, can be used by scientists to study the interactions between synthetic materials and stem cells in the laboratory, the researchers say. This will help to determine how the behavior of stem cells can be influenced and controlled by these materials. In turn, this knowledge might lead to the creation of an artificial stem-cell “niche” for the reproduction of stem cells and the treatment of leukemia in 10 to 15 years.

Source: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; January 10, 2014.

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