Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Damage Control

Stores of stem cells are mobilised with the help of immune cells to repair damage

24 March 2019

Damage Control

Throughout the body, pools of stem cells provide a steady supply of replenishments to our tissues. These cells can develop into any form required, and are funnelled to nearby areas in need of repair or maintenance. But the exact process that mobilises these stores, or niches, into action at times of stress is unclear. To investigate, researchers studied stem cells in mouse skin responsible for regenerating hair. When they created a breach in the niche’s barrier, the stem cells (coloured red) responded to the damage by multiplying and calling reinforcements from the immune system (green). By recruiting help, the stem cells were able to divert resources to repairing the damage. If stem cells throughout the body interact with the immune system in similar ways to detect and deal with damage, we might one day be able to tap into this communication to help regenerate injured and diseased tissues.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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