Leukemia is one of the most known types of cancer. Those who suffer from it discover an alarming increase in white blood cells. A new development in medicine, the artificial bone marrow, could lead to new leukemia treatments. In many cases leukemia is treatable with chemotherapy, medical radiation therapy, hormone treatments, or bone marrow transplant.
Sometimes it can even be cured forever. This depends on the age of the patient. Children are usually cured for life, while adults can still fear the return of the disease. Even when a cure is unlikely, leukemia can be treated for years. The artificial bone marrow could be used to reproduce hematopoietic stem cells which would lead to new treatments.
The research was carried out by scientists from Young Investigators Group for Stem Cell–Material Interactions. The project was lead by Dr. Cornelia Lee-Thedieck. The scientists work in different places such as KIT Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG), the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, and Tübingen University.
They invented a spongy hydrogel material that has the same structure as the substance inside the bone that contains the bone marrow. Afterwards, they added proteins found in the bone to their artificial bone marrow. The scientists made sure to create the perfect environment for the reproduction of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).
Upon adding cells from the umbilical cord to the artificial bone marrow, the HSCs were shown to be able to reproduce and retain their ability to differentiate. The next step in this research is to see the impact of the artificial environment on the stem cells.
The team hopes to be able to find new ways to treat leukemia using this artificial bone marrow in the future. They estimate at least 15 years until their project reaches its final stages. Do you believe they have a chance to succed?