Canadian scientists have morphed human skin cells into blood cells, converting one kind of mature human cell into another for the first time, the journal Nature has reported.
The change was conducted without the intermediate step of rewinding the skin cells into flexible pluripotent stem cells. Researchers believe that skipping the pluripotent step dodges the risk that replacement cells might form dangerous tumours.
The report states the team produced blood progenitor cells, that is, mother cells that multiply to produce other cells, as well as mature blood cells. Both could be useful in medical treatments, according to study leader Mick Bhatia, a stem cell scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "There is a great need for alternative sources of human blood," Bhatia said. "Since this source would come from a patient's own skin, there would be no concern of rejection of the transplanted cells." ~ Los Angeles Times, Nov 7
Editor's Note: The implications of this are huge as we face blood donation shortages around the country and the risk of a patient rejecting transfused blood.