Growing Blood From Skin Cells

From the Vancouver Sun: "Canadian scientists have transformed pinches of human skin into petri dishes of human blood - a major medical breakthrough that could yield new sources of blood for transfusions after cancer treatments or surgery ... The discovery [could] one day potentially allow anyone needing blood after multiple rounds of surgery or chemotherapy, or for blood disorders such as anemia, to have a backup supply of blood created from a tiny patch of their own skin - eliminating the risk of their body's immune system rejecting blood from a donor. Researchers predict the lab-grown blood could be ready for testing in humans within two years. ... The procedure is also relatively simple. It involves taking a small piece of skin just centimetres in size, which would require only a stitch to close, extracting fibroblasts - abundant cells in the skin that make up the connective tissue and give skin its flexibility - and bathing them in growth factors in a petri dish. Next, by adding a single protein that binds to DNA and acts as an on/off switch, the researchers turned on or off some 2,000 genes and reprogrammed the skin cells to differentiate or morph into millions of blood progenitors - the cells the produce blood."



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