Australian scientists have found a safer and faster way to harvest cancer-fighting stem cells

A stem cell being mobilised from the bone marrow into a blood vessel. Image: Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Dr Kate Patterson

A less invasive way of harvesting stem cells, with fewer side effects for donors, has been developed by a team of researchers at Australia’s peak science body, the CSIRO.

Stem cells are routinely taken from healthy donors and used for bone marrow transplants for people suffering from cancers including leukaemia.

But current methods take a long time, require injections of a growth factor to boost stem cell numbers and can be painful to donors.

The latest discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, reduces the time required to get adequate numbers of stem cells without the need for a growth factor. What took days now takes minutes.

The use of stem cells to fix damaged or diseased human tissue is becoming big business, with more than 700 companies globally with a regenerative medicine focus.

In Australia, ASX-listed companies such as Mesoblast have been creating ways to treat arthritis, inflammatory ailments, cardiovascular disease and back pain.

The latest stem cell harvesting method, developed by a team of CSIRO researchers working with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, combines a newly discovered molecule known as BOP with an existing type of molecule (AMD3100) to mobilise the stem cells found in bone marrow out into the blood stream.

“Current treatment requires the patient to have growth factor injections for several days leading up to the procedure,” sasy CSIRO researcher Susie Nilsson.

“Using the new method eliminates the need for this, meaning a procedure that once took days can be reduced to around an hour.”

Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the treatment. The next step is a phase 1 clinical trial.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.