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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
study was published in Nature on