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HMGB1 Summons Stem Cells From Bone Marrow

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HMGB1 Summons Stem Cells From Bone Marrow

Scientists uncover chemical that calls stem cells from bone marrow to heal wounds…

We have already seen how stem cells taken from a patient’s bone marrow can help treat scar tissue that has resulted from heart attack, but now new research conducted in the UK and Japan suggests that scientists may have found the specific chemical that summons these stem cells in order to heal the wound.

Scientists have long believed that bone marrow played a major role in repairing damaged skin but the exact system that makes this happen has always eluded researchers. The new study however, has shed light on the process and could lead to the development of new drugs that aid healing.

The chemical, known as HMGB1, acts like a distress signal for our bodies when we’ve been injured, summing stem cells from bone marrow directly to the wound in order to heal it.

bone marrow cells 550x412 HMGB1 Summons Stem Cells From Bone Marrow

Bone Marrow Cells

Image Credit: Bobjgalindo, 2005.

When Researchers at Osaka University and King’s College London experimented on lab mice, they found that the way a wound was treated and/or left to heal determined how much HMGB1 was released into the body. The researchers injected bone marrow cells that glow green into the mice. This allowed the cells to be tracked. The mice were then wounded, and half given skin grafts, the others were left to heal untreated. After analyzing the mice, the researchers found that the mice with the skin grafts had more stem cells travel to the wound compared with the mice that had no grafts.

Professor John McGrath, from King’s College London, hypothesized that because skin grafts have no blood vessels and therefore no oxygen, the body released more HMGB1 in a kind of ‘save our skin’ signal which calls more stem cells to cope with the foreign tissue.

Talking to the BBC McGrath said:

“It could have a very big impact on regenerative medicine for treating people with rare genetic illnesses and more common problems such as burns and ulcers…

“It could potentially revolutionize the management of wound healing.”

He went on to explain how the research could lead to the development of treatments in which a drug like HMGB1 could be injected into the wound.

Researchers in Osaka are now developing a drug to mimic the properties of HMGB1. They hope to begin animal testing by the end of the year with clinical trials on humans to follow shortly afterward.

Phil Stephens, professor of Cell Biology at Cardiff University, said:

“I think it has potentially big clinical implications, but the key is potential if you can control it. You can’t just chuck it on, you need the right amounts at the right time…

“Identifying the mechanism is a really important first step.”

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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