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Breakthrough in blood stem cell research

19 April 2022

Red blood cells

Research from Cardiff University has identified the purest blood stem cell population to date. This will be pivotal in the future of blood transfusion medicine, cardiovascular disease and leukaemia treatment.

Dr Fernando Afonso’s group at Cardiff University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, in collaboration with researchers at The Francis Crick Institute, have identified a group of rare primitive blood cells and scientifically proved that these represent the purest blood stem cell population described to date.

“The body has to constantly replace blood cell, in order for blood to support all of its functions, supporting all of our organs. In fact, blood is one of the body’s most highly regenerative tissues, with our bone marrow producing one trillion new blood cells every day.

“These all come from a small number of blood stem cells, which have the ability to copy themselves and develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

“In order to understand how human blood works, as well as the diseases that affect blood, we need to fully understand blood stem cells,” said Dr Fernando Afonso, Cardiff University,

The researchers have isolated the purest form of blood stem cells for the first time. This research will lay the foundation for blood disease research, including research into blood cancers.

“We believe that this discovery could be a breakthrough in the field of haematology as it will help us better understand human blood formation and regeneration.

“This knowledge is crucial for transplantation and blood transfusion medicine, ageing of blood cells and the immune system, cardiovascular disease, and the origin of certain types of leukaemia,” added Dr Fernando Afonso.

Single cell analyses identify a highly regenerative and homogenous human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cell population

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