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Biotech researchers turn skin into human blood

Biotech researchers turn skin into human blood

Biotech researchers turn skin into human blood

Touted as an important breakthrough for surgery and marrow patients

In an important breakthrough, scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. The research was first published in the science journal on November 7th, were the results provided the promise that patients who could need blood during surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia could have their own source of blood created from a patch of their own skin.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine said that the applications to the research are not limited to just creating blood, but that the process has already been proven.

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“We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process… We’ll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence,” said Bhatia, noting that clinical trials could begin as soon as 2012. The method has been employed on the old and young, and repeatedly shows success.

“CIHR is proud to invest in the excellent research that is being undertaken by Mick Bhatia’s laboratory at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University,” said Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, in a statement released in November.

“The Bhatia research effort is building on significant findings in recent years, which have shown that human skin cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells that have the potential to become all cell types.

“[These] pioneering findings published [in November] are the first to demonstrate that human skin cells can be directly converted into blood cells, via a programming process that bypasses the pluripotent stage. Producing blood from a patient’s own skin cells has the potential of making bone marrow transplant HLA matching and paucity of donors a thing of the past.”

“Future generations will benefit tremendously from the world-class research that Dr. Bhatia and Ontario stem cell scientists are making here today. Ontario is the place where stem cells were discovered. We will continue to lead the world with breakthrough discoveries that improve lives and create good jobs and a strong, innovative economy.”

In other reactions, members of the healthcare community and researchers, such as Christine Williams, director of research for the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, described the possibilities that the research could be used for, specifically in cancer treatment.

“We are happy to be able to fund this important stem cell research which holds enormous promise for improved treatment of many types of cancer, including solid tumors and leukemias,” said Williams.

The full impact of this discovery are not yet known, but people with rare blood types may eb the first to benefit.

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