Scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and the University of Kansas Medical Center, have identified a way to expand blood-forming adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from human umbilical cord blood (hUCB), without differentiating the cells into mature blood cells. If the technique can be translated into a clinical setting, it could make cord blood HSC transplants more readily available to eligible patients with blood cancers, and immune and genetic disorders, for whom a suitable bone marrow donor can’t be found.

Reported in Cell Research , the new approach targets a single protein known as YTHDF2, which impacts on the multiple mRNAs involved in controlling the ability of stem cells to replicate without differentiating. After investigating the concept of YGHDF2 knockdown in a mouse model, the researchers carried out tests in laboratory-grown hUCB samples, which showed that blocking YHDF2 activity boosted eightfold the numbers of functional hUCB …