We have developed a new method for harvesting stem cells, which is less invasive and reduces side effects for donors.

The challenge

Uncomfortable and lengthy stem cell harvesting method for donors

A hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) being mobilised from the bone marrow microenvironment into a blood vessel.  ©Dr Kate Patterson (Garvan Institute of Medical Research, NSW)

Cancer patients routinely undergo bone marrow transplants that use stem cells donated from healthy donors.

Current stem cell harvesting methods take a long time, requiring injections of a growth factor in the days leading up to procedure to boost stem cell numbers.

The growth factor can often lead to unpleasant side effects for the donor like aching bones, and in some cases is not effective in achieving high stem cell numbers anyway.

Our response

A new method for harvesting stem cells

A team of our researchers working within the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute  (ARMI) at Monash University, have discovered a method for harvesting stem cells that reduces the time required to obtain adequate numbers of stem cells, without the need for a growth factor.

The new method combines a newly discovered molecule, known as BOP, with an existing type of molecule, AMD3100. Together, the synthesised molecules are able to mobilise the stem cells found in bone marrow out into the blood stream, within an hour of a single dosage.

The results

A better donor experience

The scientists found that combining the two small molecules not only eliminates the need for the growth factor, but when the harvested cells are transplanted they can replenish the entire bone marrow system with no known side effects.

A major benefit of the discovery is that harvesting stem cells will become more efficient and effective, considerably reducing the stress for donors, which in turn benefits patients.

So far successful pre-clinical studies have demonstrated the treatment is effective.

The next step is a phase 1 clinical trial assessing the combination of BOP molecule with the growth factor, prior to the eventual successful combination of the two small molecules BOP and AMD3100.

Using BOP molecule for better stem cell harvesting  ©Jesse Hawley

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