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STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYInterior of a bone. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a long bone fractured to show its interior. The outer layer (pink) of the bone comprises proliferating cartilage. In the centre is spongy, or cancellous bone, which contains bone marrow (red) the site of blood cell production. Spongy bone is characterised by a honeycomb arrangement, comprising a network of trabeculae (cream, centre). The perimeter of the bone is made from thicker bone, called compact, or cortical bone.
STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYBone marrow. [false colour] Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of bone marrow in cancellous bone tissue. Bone tissue can be either cortical (compact) or cancellous (spongy). Cancellous bone is found in the centre of the bone and is characterised by a honeycomb arrangement, comprising a network of trabeculae (fibrous tissue). These structures provide support and strength to the bone. The spaces between the trabeculae are filled with bone marrow (blue), which produces blood cells. Differentiating white blood cells (pink), part of the body's immune system, are seen here. Magnification: x500 when printed 10 centimetres wide.
Bone marrow stem cells are collected from the donor either by bone marrow tap (drilling a hole into the marrow cavity and sucking the stem cells out), or less painfully by giving a drug called G-CSF, which causes the stem cells to increase their rate of cell division so that they begin to spill out into the blood stream; this means that they can be harvested from peripheral blood.