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D. The Origin of Adult Stem Cell Therapy

Narrator: This is Science Today. The concept of using adult stem cells for therapeutics came from bone marrow transplants. Judith Gasson, co-director of UCLA's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine, explains.

Gasson: In years past, the bone marrow, which is inside of our bones, was actually harvested or pulled out of the bones using a syringe and then could either be given back to the same patients or to another patient after treatment with high dose chemotherapy and/or radiation to hopefully destroy the cancer cells in that patient's body. But the patient needs to have their bone marrow to produce all of the cells in the blood. And so that was the reason to give back the bone marrow after the treatment ended.

Narrator: Then, growth factors that regulate the production of bone marrow cells were isolated and when given to the patient, blood forming stem cells in the bone marrow would flow throughout the patient's blood; making it possible to harvest these stem cells from the peripheral blood, rather than pulling it out of the bones with a syringe.

Gasson: So these types of stem cell transplants are being done here and around the world for cancer patients with disorders such as leukemia.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.