Stanford University researchers have isolated a human blood cell that represents the "great grandparent" of all blood cells, a finding that may lead to more effective treatment of leukemia and other blood diseases.
The cell, called the multi-potent progenitor, is the first offspring of blood-forming stem cells that reside in bone marrow and give rise to all other cells of the blood.
The multi-potent progenitor is also thought to be the cell that mutates into a form of leukemia.
Multi-potent progenitors have been well-known in mice but never before isolated in humans.
The research was performed by Dr. Irving Weissman, director of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Biology, co-lead author Dr. Christopher Park, an instructor in pathology, and co-lead author Dr. Ravindra Majeti, an instructor in hematology.
"We can compare the leukemic stem cell to this progenitor cell and from that find out what makes the leukemic stem cell different," Weissman said, which could lead to new treatments for leukemia patients.