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Book and Media Reviews
November 10, 2010

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Biology

JAMA. 2010;304(18):2067-2071. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1645

The purification of hematopoietic stem cells in 1988 hailed a new era in stem cell biology, with hopes for improving stem cell transplantation, achieving better understanding of stem cell diseases such as leukemia and myeloma, and promoting regenerative medicine. Subsequently, the technical feat of deprogramming hematopoietic stem cells back to pluripotent stem cells by use of transfection with transcription factors boosted the potential of regenerative medicine. Pluripotent stem cells of hematopoietic origin would be much simpler to use than embryonic stem cells, because they would avert ethical concerns of possible embryo abuse and would provide a renewable source of cells throughout a person's lifetime. If hematopoietic stem cells could be isolated and converted back into pluripotent stem cells, they could regenerate damaged tissue, whether the damage be in the liver, nervous system, or elsewhere. Despite the huge potential benefit of hematopoietic stem cells, however, little has been achieved clinically by their implantation or transplantation—a discord attributable to gaps remaining in the understanding of the biology of hematopoietic stem cells.

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