BOSTON -- April 9, 2008 -- Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have
identified a gene that is responsible for the division and movement of
marrow-derived, blood-forming stem cells, a finding that could have major
implications for the future of bone marrow and blood cell transplantation.
Every year, some 45,000 patients undergo bone marrow or peripheral
blood progenitor cell transplantation for the treatment of a variety of
diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and immunodeficiency. Blood cell
transplantation may also one day help people with diabetes better tolerate islet
cell transplants without the need for prolonged use of powerful
immunosuppressive drugs. In addition, transplantation of blood-forming stem
cells, also called hematopoietic stem cells, may prove useful in halting the
autoimmune process that causes type 1 diabetes.