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Researchers in Germany have devised a better technique for extracting cells from the body that are capable of rebuilding cancer patients' blood after it has been destroyed by anti-cancer drugs.

The technique, detailed in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, allows doctors to extract special blood cells using one-tenth the usual volume of blood that must normally be collected from a cancer patient.The extracted cells are then allowed to multiply in a test tube until they are plentiful enough to re-inject into the body after the cancer victim has been treated with enough chemotherapy to deplete the bone marrow.

The injected cells can then find a new home in the marrow, where blood is made, and are able to rebuild the patient's blood supply.

The technique was tested in 10 patients by a team led by Dr. Wolfram Brugger of the Albert-Lud-wigs University Medical Center in Freiburg, Germany.

The researchers said that because fewer blood cells are taken from the cancer patient, there is less chance that a cancerous cell will be re-injected into the patient to rebuild the blood.