Stem cell discovery: Australian scientists make significant find while studying zebrafish

Posted: August 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Australian scientists studying zebrafish have stumbled upon what they say is one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research.

In research published on Thursday in the journal Nature, the Monash University scientists revealed that they uncovered how one of the most important stem cells in blood and bone marrow, the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC), is formed.

Professor Peter Currie, from Monash University's Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, said the discovery brought researchers closer to growing HSCs in a lab.

"HSCs are the basis of bone marrow transplantations as a therapy, so when a leukaemia patient receives bone marrow, it's really these HSCs that do the heavy lifting," Professor Currie said.

"So when clinicians do bone marrow transplants, they need to find a matching donor recipients and we know that's a hit-or-miss procedure.

"So for many years people have been trying to make HSCs in the dish, and they've had very little success in doing this."

Professor Currie, who led the study, said the discovery brought scientists much closer to achieving that aim.

"It's the discovery of a completely new cell type that basically is required to give instructions to the HSC to make it become what it needs to become," he said.

"It means we now understand how HSC form in the body better, we can use that information to try to grow these cells in the dish and we hope that will lead to better treatment for people with leukaemia and blood disorders."

Professor Currie said he specialises in muscle stem cell biology and accidentally came across the discovery while studying muscle stem cells in zebrafish.

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Stem cell discovery: Australian scientists make significant find while studying zebrafish

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