Vasculature of a mouse placenta
In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in young children, and leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens. Blood stem cells located deep within the bone marrow normally balance the production of blood cells and immune cells, but in patients with leukemia, these stem cells produce a high amount of abnormal white blood cells, eventually clogging up the bone marrow so that it can no longer produce healthy cells. Current research is looking for ways to replace damaged stem cells with healthy ones. The vasculature of the placenta has been recently identified as a novel location where blood stem cells are made and may be a future source of stem cells for replacement.
President Obama has recently designated September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in remembrance of lives lost to pediatric cancer and in hopes of advancing research for new treatment options.
Image by Amanda Phillips-Yzaguirre, University of Pennsylvania.