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Preventing Rogue Blood Cells From Cloning Stops Blood Cancer

Nov, 2021

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Researchers made an important discovery around how genetic mutations causing blood stem cells to go rogue forming population of cloned cell developing cancer.

A team of scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital investigated a main cause of development of leukaemia and found that genetic mutation causes cloning of blood stem cells leading to development of cancer. The study published in the journal Science on November 5, 2021 showed how stem cells can protect themselves while rapidly multiplying, however, it also found new targets to stop blood cancer in its beginning stages.

This new research aimed on clonal hematopoiesis, which is caused by genetic mutation, where stem cells of blood multiply at uneven rate than other cells and rapidly form population of cloned cells that later become dominant. This process is normal, however, it can also be linked to solid tumors, and rarely blood diseases and in turn lukemia. In this study, the team experimented on zebrafish that has same genome as humans and they have transparent embryos. Using CRISPR, the researchers introduced genetic mutation that is found in human clonal hemtopoieses and waited for those stem cells to go rogue and form large population of cloned cells. 

With this process, the team was able to detect genetic mutation that became dominant due to same blood stem cell populations. Then the team studied blood cells that were turning on genes, which showed the scientists that anti-inflammatory genes were switching on by mutated blood stem cells and were creating anti-inflammatory molecules. Then, the researchers demonstrated how taking out one gene called nr4a1 responsible for this protection, saw the sacrifice of this advantage by cloned cells. The team hopes to employ these results for the development of treatment to reduce chances of leukemia in people having clonal hematopoiesis.

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