It can be called a breakthrough in stem cell research. Harvard researchers found some hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow differentiate more slowly than others. The findings can revolutionize treatment for diseases such as leukemia, for which the only existing cure is bone marrow transplant.

This new study defies the established dogma in the field of stem cell research, which previously assumed that all stem cells divide once every two to four weeks. Hock’s research team discovered that 20 percent of stem cells divide less often than expected, only once every 100 days or more.

These slower-dividing cells constitute a purer population of stem cells—one that could be useful in bone marrow transplant therapy, according to Harvard Medical School research fellow Adlen Foudi, one of the study’s lead co-authors.The experiment entailed a novel labeling procedure that allows researchers to examine the rate of stem cell division.

Source: Harvard Crimson