USC And Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Researchers Discover A Way To Enhance The Growth Of Stem Cells From Umbilical Cord Blood After Transplantation
"Patients who undergo bone marrow transplantation frequently suffer from life-threatening infections because of the slow recovery of the immune system," said Dr. Crooks, the author of a study recently published in the journal Blood.
In the article titled, "Expansion of Multipotent and lymphoid committed human progenitors through intracellular dimerization of Mpl," Dr. Crooks and her team describe a novel way to speed the engraftment of stem cells and the development of the immune system after bone marrow transplantation, using approaches that combine stem cell and gene therapy.
Dr. Crooks, and her colleague Hisham Abdel-Azim, M.D., engineered human cord blood cells to express a synthetic fusion protein.
"When we transplanted the engineered human cells into mice," said Dr. Abdel-Azim, "they were able to regulate how the cord blood developed in the mice simply by giving a drug that dimerized (i.e., linked) pairs of fusion proteins and stimulated a signal for the cell to divide."
According to Dr. Crooks, "We hope that this approach might be used to treat patients for whom limited numbers of cord blood stem cells are available for transplantation and as an approach to hasten the growth of the immune system."
Dr. Crooks received her medical degree from the University of Western Australia in 1982. She served her internship (1982-83) and residency (1983-84) at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Western Australia, before receiving a fellowship with the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Childrens Hospital (1989-1993).
Dr. Crooks was named a Stohlman Scholar by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2004. In 2005, she was appointed the director of the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Stem Cell Project.
She has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and nearly 100 abstracts. She has been an invited lecturer around the world to discuss gene therapy and stem cells.
Founded in 1901, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has been treating the most seriously ill and injured children in Los Angeles for more than a century, and it is acknowledged throughout the United States and around the world for its leadership in pediatric and adolescent health. Childrens Hospital is one of America's premier teaching hospitals, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932. It is a national leader in pediatric research.
Investigators at The Saban Research Institute of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles are working to create a world in which all children are healthy - a world in which they are no longer threatened by such diseases as cancer, congenital heart defects, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, immune deficiencies and respiratory disorders. They ask basic questions about human biology, find new ways to see inside the body, explore genetic mysteries, develop promising drug treatments and test preventive strategies - scientific inquiries that benefit both children and adults. The Saban Research Institute is among the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, with 102 investigators at work on 261 laboratory studies, clinical trials and community-based research and health services. It is one of the few freestanding research centers in the nation to combine scientific laboratory inquiry with patient clinical care - dedicated exclusively to children - and its base of knowledge is widely considered to be among the best in pediatric medicine.
Since 1990, U.S. News & World Report and its panel of board-certified pediatricians have named Childrens Hospital Los Angeles one of the top pediatric facilities in the nation.
University of Southern California
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