Most of the people around understand the importance of the blood cells. They are the ones which carry the oxygen throughout the body. On the other side, the white blood cells got the role to fight with infection within and help the body to stay immune to all the diseases. But, what about the hematopoietic stem cells that turn into our blood cells?
There have been scientists, researchers, and doctors, which have studied hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) – the stem cells that form blood and immune cells – for more than 60 years, ever since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. HSCs have now been used regularly in order to treat patients with cancer after chemotherapy.
What Is A Hematopoietic Stem Cell?
The hematopoietic system – the system which holds the responsibility of producing bodies’ cellular components – is largely dependent on the presence of HSCs.
Moreover, HSCs can be deemed as the only source for the continuous production of red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and all other cells within the human body system. If you look into the fact that an average human needs around 100 billion new hematopoietic cells every day, only then you can realize the crucial role played by HSCs in our bodies.
Specialized behavior of Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Simply because the HSCs sometimes act like normal white blood cells, scientists have spent a good time in locating the key characteristics and properties of the stem cells.
We all know about the studies that were conducted on mice and that where we got to know about the four important properties of HSC: it can repair itself, it can distinguish to a diversity of other specific cells, and it can switch out of bone marrow into blood circulation and can also undergo programmed cell death, called apoptosis.
There are various other sources of HSCs, and the list includes bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, fetal hematopoietic system and embryonic stem cells and germ cells.
If we talk about Bone marrow, it has been used as a basic source of HSCs for more than 40 years but, peripheral blood now comes as a preferred source of medical treatments and, as the umbilical cord blood banks are getting more and more support across the globe, umbilical cord blood is now being deemed as a better option for patients around the world. Looking into the final two sources, the fetal hematopoietic system and embryonic stem cells, both of them are used for clinical purposes only.
Clinical Uses and Current Applications
Currently, tens and thousands of transplants are getting performed on a yearly basis across the globe.
Medically, HSCs are brought in use to treat acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, aplastic anemia, and other major immune deficiencies and metabolic diseases. If we look at its importance in the treatment of cancer patients, HSCs gets transplanted after the chemo- or irradiation therapy to restore the hematopoietic system. In most of the cases, the result can be achieved within 2-4 weeks.
Looking into the future
There have been numerous clinical trials which are currently focused towards gene therapy, vehicles for gene delivery and other gene-editing tactics. There are many promising HSC gene therapies in the early initial phases of clinical trials, which also include treatments and products for sickle cell disease, X-linked forms of SCID, and Wiskott-Aldich Syndrome.
There is a clinical trial that’s promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Maryland, which is currently boarding pregnant women in order to inspect the various ways to collect process and store the umbilical cord blood. When it comes to the babies born with sickle cell disease, the blood collected from the cord and placenta will be stored indefinitely for use in gene therapy treatments later in life. For all those babies which are born without sickle cell disease, the cord blood will be stored up to 3 years and can possibly be used in order to treat the present or future siblings who may get born with the disease.
Ajan Reginald founded Celixir with Professor Sir Martin Evans in 2009 and has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since inception. Ajan Reginald is an inventor of Celixir’s core technology, discovered Heartcel and Tendoncel and designed and led the early clinical trials.