program skin cells directly to produce blood stem cells – no more waiting for blood or bone marrow transplants?

Stem cell research has been progressing leaps and bounds in the last few years. I reported here that scientists have discovered a way to turn skin cells into pluripotent stem cells. In an important breakthrough, scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. The discovery, published in the prestigious science journal Nature today, could mean that in the foreseeable future people needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from a patch of their own skin to provide transfusions. Clinical trials could begin as soon as 2012.
Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and his team of researchers have also shown that the conversion is direct. Making blood from skin does not require the middle step of changing a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem cell that could make many other types of human cells, then turning it into a blood stem cell.
The discovery was replicated several times over two years using human skin from both young and old people to prove it works for any age of person.

"CIHR is proud to invest in the excellent research that is being undertaken by Mick Bhatia’s laboratory at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University," said Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

"The pioneering findings published today are the first to demonstrate that human skin cells can be directly converted into blood cells, via a programming process that bypasses the pluripotent stage. Producing blood from a patient’s own skin cells has the potential of making bone marrow transplant HLA matching and paucity of donors a thing of the past."
Here you can watch this to see Mick Bhatia presenting this discovery.

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