Public Release: 

The secrets of bone marrow: What leads to healthy blood cell production?

Medical College of Wisconsin

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a five-year, $635,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to identify new potential treatments for diseases that inhibit the growth of blood cells and diseases in which the blood cells develop abnormally.

Karen-Sue Carlson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine (hematology and oncology) at MCW, was awarded this grant which aims to develop her career in the field of blood disorders. Carlson sees patients at Froedtert Hospital.

The growth of new blood cells, also known as hematopoiesis, is dependent on the existence of hematopoietic stem cells and the supportive microenvironment. Abnormalities in either can result in abnormal blood cell production and manifests in diseases such as anemia, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia.

The protein laminin is an integral part of structure of nearly every tissue. Additionally, Carlson believes laminin to be a critical element in maintaining the bone marrow environment necessary to grow new blood cells.

In this project, Carlson seeks to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which laminin achieves and maintains the 'steady state' of healthy bone marrow by using a mouse model. Ultimately, the goal of the research is to identify novel targets for the treatment of bone marrow failure syndromes and hematopoietic malignancies (blood cancers).

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