Canadian researchers have defied the imagination by transforming skin cells into blood cells
In an exciting breakthrough at McMaster University in Canada, scientists have created different types of blood cells using human skin.
The achievement could help patients needing transfusions to treat deadly blood disorders or offset the destructive side-effect of chemotherapy.
Scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, Mick Bhatia, said his team was able to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells, two kinds of immune cells and cells that produce platelets needed for clotting.
‘We have shown this works using human skin,’ he sais. ‘We know how it works and believe we can even improve the process.’
The study, published online in the Journal of Nature, used skin cells from six individuals ranging in age from newborn to 65-plus.
Bhatia concluded: ‘What we found was it didn’t make a difference. We were able to convert all of the human skin cells to blood independent of age.’
Dr. Cynthia Dunbar, of the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said: ‘The ability to do this is going to open a lot of doors. In terms of whether it’s going to be put in to patients in the next five years, I think is very unlikely. But that doesn’t take away from how important it is scientifically.’
Bhatia and his colleagues also believe it might be possible to freeze the red blood cells and those that produce platelets created from the skin of people with rare blood types, not only for individual use but also for others with the same blood signature.
‘We are hoping this is not just limited to blood. We’re hoping we can also get other cell types,’ said Bhatia. ‘We already have encouraging evidence.’