For the first time ever, researchers produced lab-grown blood stem cells

Tom Ward and Abby Norman, Updated: May 19, 2017 at 9:03 pm • Published: May 19, 2017 0
photo - Shutterstock By SebGross
Shutterstock By SebGross

In two separate studies, researchers have successfully created blood stem cells in a laboratory setting for the first time. These types of cells are found in bone marrow and can be depleted by diseases like leukemia and even by the treatments for those diseases, such as chemotherapy.

George Daley, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard, and his team started with pluripotent stem cells, which can give rise to just about any type cell in our anatomy. By looking at what proteins controlled the genes in bone marrow cells, they were able to isolate several that were essential to cell differentiation (the process by which stem cells become a specific kind of cell). They then applied them to the pluripotent cells in order to encourage them to turn into the cells found in bone marrow.

Another team lead by Raphael Lis, Instructor in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, took cells from the lungs of animals, and found four factors that encourage the lung stem cells to make blood stem cells. In their report they “demonstrate a tractable approach for fully reprogramming adult mouse endothelial cells to haematopoietic stem cells.” The next steps for Lis are to streamline the “conceived […] reproducible approach to manufacture engraftable durable blood cells”, so they can be produced on a larger scale.

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