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Next Up: Blood

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.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.