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HEMATOPOIETIC GROWTH FACTORS
The hematopoietic growth factors are glycoprotein hormones that regulate the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitor cells in the bone marrow. The first growth factors to be identified were called colony-stimulating factors because they could stimulate the growth of colonies of various bone marrow progenitor cells in vitro. Many of these growth factors have been purified and cloned, and their effects on hematopoiesis have been extensively studied. Quantities of these growth factors sufficient for clinical use are produced by recombinant DNA technology.
Of the known hematopoietic growth factors, erythropoietin (epoetin alfa and epoetin beta), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interleukin-11 (IL-11) are currently in clinical use. Romiplostim is a novel biologic agent that activates the thrombopoietin receptor.
The hematopoietic growth factors and drugs that mimic their action have complex effects on the function of a wide variety of cell types, including nonhematologic cells. Their usefulness in other areas of medicine, particularly as potential anticancer and anti-inflammatory drugs, is being investigated.
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