Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) researchers have identified a mechanism that helps regulate the movement of blood-forming stem cells in the body.
The finding could lead to improvements in the efficiency of bone marrow transplants.
"By identifying the key mechanism by which these stem cells home and engraft to the bone marrow, it may be possible to pharmacologically treat the cells to activate this pathway and thus increase the effectiveness of bone marrow transplants," Nature magazine quoted lead author Gregor Adams, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School as saying.
In the study conducted using mouse model, the researchers found that blood-forming stem cells that lacked a specific signalling molecule, called GalphaS, did not home to or engraft in the bone marrow.
"Here we show that the GalphaS pathway is a critical intracellular pathway involved in this process," he said.
"Currently, large numbers of blood-forming stem cells are required in bone marrow transplantation due to the limited efficiency of the homing process.
This study opens up the possibility of treating bone marrow cells with GalphaS pathway activators as a means to increase the effectiveness of bone marrow transplants," he added.