Researchers at McMaster University in Canada have developed a technique to turn mature skin cells into mature blood cells in one step, without the need to turn them into pluripotent cells in between, reports the 80beats blog. The researchers, who reported their results in Nature, injected a virus containing a gene called OCT4 into the skin cells, which reprogrammed the development of the cells, the blog's Jennifer Welsh says. Then the cells were incubated in a mixture of cytokines which specified their growth into red or white blood cells. By avoiding making the cells pluripotent, the researchers say this method is a safer way to grow blood and bone marrow in the lab because it cuts down the risk that the new cells could grow into tumors when used in patients, Welsh adds. The researchers also say this method has a lot of potential benefits in the clinic, though the technique and resultant blood products still have to be tested and studied before they're ready for human use, Welsh says.
Next Up: Blood
Nov 10, 2010