Haematopoietic stem cell niche

Chief investigator: Dr Simón Méndez-Ferrer
Location/Institution: University of Cambridge
Funder: NHSBT Research and Development Committee
NHSBT Research Theme: Stem Cells and Immunotherapies

Summary

Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, which contains two distinct adult stem cell types: blood stem cells which generate all blood and immune cells, and mesenchymal stem cells which form the scaffold on which blood stems cells differentiate.

Dr Méndez-Ferrer’s recent research has shown that the number of blood stem cell numbers is not constant in the blood stream but varies according to specific and regular rhythmic oscillations. This rhythmic traffic of blood stem cells in and out of the bone marrow is controlled by signals from the brain through nerves.

This work aims to understand how the different types of nerves, blood vessels and mesenchymal stem cells associated with them control the growth and migration of blood stem cells.

If successful, this will lead to improved methods for obtaining more blood stem cells and/or improve blood stem cell transplantation procedures.