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Bone marrow key to future treatment

A new study has found that bone marrow cells can be used to trick the body into repairing itself and could be key to the future treatment of heart disease and sports injuries.

The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust charities, found it could be possible to make bone marrow-produced stem cells move to trouble spots around the body. Once the immature cells are in position they would be able to develop into the type of tissue necessary to aid the recovery of the area.

Haematopoietic cells, which develop into blood cells, are already being manipulated by doctors for use in bone marrow transplants, but tests on mice suggest that the production of other kinds of stem cell could be introduced.

These could include the use of mesenchymal stem cells, which make cartilage and bone, and endothelial progenitor cells, which build blood vessels.

Study author Dr Sara Rankin, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said: "We hope that by releasing extra stem cells we could potentially call up extra numbers of whichever stem cells the body needs, in order to boost its ability to mend itself and accelerate the repair process."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Heart Foundation