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  (Source: topnews.in)
Research could help those with cancer or anemia

McMaster University researchers from Hamilton, Ontario have found a way to create blood directly from skin without having to change a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem cell. 

Dr. Mick Bhatia, study leader and scientific director of McMaster's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, along with his team, have created blood directly from human skin in an effort to treat medical conditions such as anemia and cancer. The new technique can also use the blood in surgery from the patients' own skin without having to perform the intermediate step of transforming a human skin cell into a pluripotent stem cell

To do this, Bhatia and his team obtained skin fibroblasts, which is a type of cell that gives skin its form through the "scaffolding" of connective tissues. Once the skin fibroblasts were taken from volunteers, researchers then inserted the gene for OCT4 into the cells using a virus, and grew them in an "infusion of cytokines," which are signaling proteins that stimulate the immune system and communicate between cells. Usually, researchers have to transform a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem cell before turning it into a blood stem cell, but this new research eliminates the middle step and converts skin cells directly into blood cells. 

"Bhatia's approach detours around the pluripotent stem cell stage and thus avoids many safety issues, increases efficiency, and also has the major benefit of producing adult-type l blood cells instead of fetal blood cells, a major advantage compared to the thus far disappointing attempts to produce blood cells from human ESCs [embryonic stem cells] or IPSCs [induced pluripotent stem cells]," said Cynthia Dunbar, head of the Molecular Hematopoiesis Section of the Hematology Branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in the National Institutes of Health in the United States.  

Bhatia and his team worked on the study for two years. It is the first study to show direct conversion to a stem cell, and also the first to show direct conversion from skin cells to other types of human cells. Bhatia's study used young and old volunteers to show that age did not matter in the study.

"We have shown this works using human skin," said Bhatia. "We'll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence."

This study was published in Nature on November 7. 





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