Stem Cells: Testing The Fates

Armen Hareyan's picture

Stem Cell and Disease Treatment

UHN's Dr. John Dick, graduate student Joby McKenzie, research associates Drs. Olga Gan and Jean Wang, and senior technician Monica Doedens have discovered that the fate of human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is highly variable - highlighting the importance of understanding how to manipulate them to achieve desired clinical outcomes.


When they divide, human hematopoietic stem cells have the potential to either renew themselves or become different blood cell types, such as white and red blood cells. However, little is known about how an HSC's fate is decided.

A sophisticated method was used to track human blood cells that were transplanted into mice. Of the blood cells that were transplanted, there was a wide variation in their cell division and renewal properties.

"Establishing how the randomness of these paths is determined will be critical to using human hematopoietic stem cells in regenerative medicine approaches," explains Dr. Dick. "And, changing the paths will be a powerful force driving stem cell-based clinical applications."

Nat Immunol. 2006 Nov;7(11):1225-1233. Research supported by Stem Cell Network of National Centres of Excellence, National Cancer Institute of Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, Terry Fox Foundation, Genome Canada, Ontario Cancer Research Network, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Canada Research Chair Program.