Hormone Prevents Stem Cell Death Following Lethal Radiation Dose

Radiation exposure often triggers cell death in hematopoetic, or blood-forming, stem cells. A study in Nature Medicine shows that the addition of a hormone following exposure could help prevent the loss of these essential progenitors. Co-authors David Kirsch and John Chute launched their investigation with genetically engineered mice that lacked genes to regulate death of endothelial (or blood vessel lining) cells. When exposed to radiation, these mice fared better than their wild type counterparts, and, notably, these former mice expressed high levels of epidermal growth factor (EGF). The team then fortified bone marrow transplants with EGF. Those mice that received the solution survived at a high rate following a lethal radiation exposure. Potentially, this research could be translated to humans as a therapy following accidental radiation exposure or radiotherapy for cancer.

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