July 27, 2015

Blood stem cells – also known as bone marrow cells – have been used for transplant for many years, but the genes that control those stem cells have remained a mystery until recently.

But now researchers at the University of Southern California have uncovered genes that affect both stem cell development and maintenance.

By performing a genetic screen of a collection of more than 100 strains of mice used in laboratories, the USC Stem Cell labs of Hooman Allayee and Gregor Adams have found significant differences among the strains of mice.

Some of the mice have larger amounts of a subpopulation of stem cells called short-term HSCs that are responsible for the formation of red and white blood cells in adults. The team identified a gene associated with an increased number of the short-term HSCs.

July 22, 2015

Making a double red blood cell donation is similar to a whole blood donation. In both instances, the result is saving lives.

However, in a double red blood cell donation, an apheresis machine is used to separate the blood components, collecting red blood cells and returning plasma and platelets to the donor during a single donation.

The double red blood cell donation process is about 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation, to allow time for the machine to separate the components. Including the pre-screening paperwork and the mini-physical to determine eligibility, the total time spent at the donation site is about 90 minutes.

July 20, 2015

Researchers have identified a “switch” that makes vaccinations work and gives the body immunity following infections.

The team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found the presence of a protein called Myb was needed for antibody-producing plasma cells to migrate into the bone marrow.

Once inside the marrow, the antibodies were preserved, creating long-term immunity from a vaccination or an infection.

“Our bone marrow is like a long-term storage facility for plasma cells, allowing them to continue producing antibodies to protect against future infections,” said Dr Kim Good-Jacobson, one of the researchers.

“Until now, it was not known why some plasma cells moved into the bone marrow, while others remained in the blood stream and perished after a few days.”

July 15, 2015

What can you do to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and some kinds of cancers? And manage your weight? And increase the amount of essential nutrients in your system?

Do what nine in 10 of our fellow Americans don’t do: Eat enough vegetables.

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that just 8.9 percent of adults in this country eat enough servings of vegetables every day and 13.1 percent eat enough fruit.

The study, taken from data compiled in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, looked at self-reported food intake across the nation in 2013.

Fruit and vegetable intake also varies widely from state to state. For example, 7.5 percent of the people in Tennessee eat the suggested amount of fruit, compared to 17.7 percent in California. For vegetable consumption, the range was 5.5 percent in Mississippi to 13.0 percent in California.

July 13, 2015

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, someday your own bone marrow stem cells may be able to reduce that aching in your knees, elbows and other joints.

A research team from the University of York in the United Kingdom is applying a recent discovery that  bone marrow stem cells can be rejuvenated (essentially, reset to an earlier age) to a study about repairing cartilage damaged by arthritis.

As you age, the number of stem cells in your body decreases, as does their ability to grow and repair tissue. The study will look into how rejuvenated stem cells from your body could be used to generate transplant tissue that would not be rejected.

The discovery of stem cell rejuvenation also may lead to the development of new drugs for boosting stem cells, said Dr. Paul Genever, lead researcher on the study.