SYDNEY, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists on Thursday have revealed that a key discovery may soon lead to the creation of a limitless supply of life-saving stem cells in laboratories.
Their report, published in Nature magazine, has uncovered a mechanism essential for forming hematopoietic stem cells, a very special group of cells in the early embryo that generates all the blood and immune cells in our bodies.
The team's major discovery was a gene that triggers the production of these haematopoietic stem cells, which treat cancers and other disorders of the blood and immune system.
Currently, researchers had been unable to find a way of producing these type of stem cells in the laboratory, leaving supplies dependent on matched bone marrow donors.
Researcher Professor Peter Currie, a geneticist with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, said being able to create hematopoietic stem cells was critically important.
"They're a therapeutic reagent -- the only bona fide stem cell treatment in use. When you have a bone marrow transplant, you're having a stem cell treatment," he said in a statement.
Currie said getting enough of these stem cells has always been difficult for scientists.
"We believe that the new group of cells we've identified ... are an important piece of that puzzle," he said.
Dr. Georgina Hollway, from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, said it was important to understand how hematopoietic stem cells were formed, and the molecular process involved.
"This information is not the whole solution to creating them in the lab, but it will certainly help," she said.