Saturday, December 25, 2010


"Stem cells are the body's reservoir of renewal. The entirety of human blood, for instance, can arise from a single, highly potent blood forming stem cell (called a hematopoietic stem cell), which typically lives buried  inside the bone marrow. Under normal conditions, only a fraction of these blood-forming stem cells are active; the rest are deeply quiescent - asleep. But if blood is suddenly depleted, by injury or chemotherapy, say, then the stem cells awaken and begin to divide with awe-inspiring fecundity, generating cells that generate thousands upon thousands of blood cells. In weeks, a single hematopoietic stem cell can replenish the entire human organism with new blood - and then, through yet unknown mechanisms, lull itself back to sleep."

Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Emperor of All Maladies