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J Exp Med. 2010 Jun 7;207(6):1127-30. doi: 10.1084/jem.20100950. Epub 2010 May 31.

Some hematopoietic stem cells are more equal than others.

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  • The Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Hock.Hanno@mgh.harvard.edu


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) save lives in routine clinical practice every day, as they are the key element in transplantation-based therapies for hematologic malignancies. The success of clinical stem cell transplantation critically relies on the ability of stem cells to reconstitute the hematopoietic system for many decades after the administration of the powerful chemotherapy and/or irradiation that is required to eradicate malignant cells, but also irreversibly ablates patients' own blood forming capacity. Surprisingly, despite enormous efforts and continuous progress in the field, our understanding of the basic biology of HSCs is still rather incomplete. Several recent studies substantially refine our understanding of the cells at the very top of the hematopoietic hierarchy, and suggest that we may need to revise the criteria we typically use to identify and define HSCs.

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