Painkillers mobilize blood stem cells

Painkillers mobilize blood stem cells

Aspirin-related drugs suggest a way towards more effective stem-cell transplants.

Aspirin-like drugs could improve the success of stem-cell transplants for patients with blood or bone-marrow disorders, a study suggests. The compounds coax stem cells from bone marrow into the bloodstream where they can be harvested for use in transplantation — and they do so with fewer side effects than drugs now in use.

For patients with blood disorders such as leukaemia, multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin\'s lymphoma, transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells — precursor cells that reside in the bone marrow and give rise to all types of blood cell — can be an effective treatment.

Previous work has shown that prostaglandin E2, or PGE2, a lipid known to regulate multiple bodily reactions including pain, fever and inflammation, also has a role in keeping stem cells in the bone marrow. In the latest study, researchers show that in mice, humans and baboons, inhibition of PGE2 with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) causes stem cells to leave the bone marrow.

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