As we get older our ability to replace damaged cells weakens. For blood cells the trigger seems to be age-induced changes that occur in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that makes us less capable of fighting of diseases like leukemia. Just like somatic and embryonic stem cells can regenerate different tissues, HSCs are specific stem cells that generate the cells that make up all of the component cells in our blood. HSCs are found in our bone marrow (see illustration below). But as we age HSCs are less potent, and it is believed this occurs because aging causes genetic mutations.
As reported in the journal Blood last month researchers from Lund University succeeded in rejuvenating the blood of mice by reprogramming HSCs by reprogramming the stem cells. The source of the reprogramming is somatic stem cells introduced into the bone marrow reversing the negative age-related mutations. Researchers note that the composition of blood in old and young mice displays similar characteristics to that in humans. And this makes their research a promising path for reversing the aging process to combat diseases of the blood.