Stem cell transplantation

Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation is the most obvious application of stem cell research. It originated in early studies of the haematological reconstitution of mice whose bone marrow had been ablated by ionizing radiation. It soon became apparent that haematological rescue of these animals required infusion of syngeneic marrow because transplantation of cells from a different strain resulted in a wasting condition called 'secondary disease', which is now known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Both the transplantation of stem cells into mice and the recognition of the importance of histocompatibility in the murine system were important contributions to modern clinical transplantation. The identification of the stem cell immuno-phenotype and the development of cell separation technologies facilitated the development of graft engineering to improve the results of clinical transplantation. One application of cell separation was to deplete the graft of T lymphocytes, either by removing T cells or purifying CD34+ cells. However, it soon became apparent that a graft-versus-leukaemia activity (GvL) was removed, along with the potential for GvHD, and efforts to isolate GvL from GvHD continue today.

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