"Sticky" stem cells make for better transplants

24 August, 2022

Treatments that boost the “stickiness” of blood-forming stem cells could help improve the success of bone marrow transplants for patients suffering from leukemia and other blood disorders.

A KAUST-led research team identified two such drug treatments that enhance the activity of molecules involved in cell adhesion. Stem cells exposed to these drugs were better able to enter the bloodstream of recipient mice, make their way to the bone marrow and start making new blood.

“This is a crucial finding,” says study author Asma Al-Amoodi, a Ph.D. student in Jasmeen Merzaban’s lab at KAUST. “Such information is indispensable for researchers and clinicians, as it will guide which stem cell populations we select for and which treatments we may use prior to injection in order to increase the success and outcomes of the transplantation process.”

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Image: Illustration of the enhanced adhesion of stem cells when exposed to certain drug treatments recently identified by KAUST researchers.
© 2022 KAUST; Heno Hwang