May 5, 2016
Researchers uncovered the role of a protein called Musashi-2 in regulating the function and development of stem cells. The improved understanding of the role of Musashi-2 will allow researchers to employ new strategies to control the growth of blood stem cells which are used to treat many life-threatening diseases, but are usually in short supply. The research was published in April in the journal Nature.
Dr. Kristin Hope, Principal Investigator at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute and Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, and OICR Investigator is lead author of the paper. Hope and her collaborators focussed specifically on umbilical cord blood, a source of stem cells that is currently not widely used in the treatment of adult blood cancers.
Hope is optimistic about the impact of the study, the findings of which could improve treatment for leukemia and lymphoma patients. “We’ve really shone a light on the way these stem cells work. We now understand how they operate at a completely new level, and that provides us with a serious advantage in determining how to maximize these stem cells in therapeutics. With this newfound ability to control over the regeneration of these cells, more people will be able to get the treatment they need.”