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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stem Cell Researchers Turn Skin into Blood, Could Treat Cancer & Other Ailments

Stem cell researchers turn skin into blood, could have far-reaching effects including the treatment of cancer, other ailments.

Mick Bhatia of the McMaster's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine authored a study which shows stem cell researchers found a way to turn a person's skin into blood. This groundbreaking process could be used to treat cancer and other ailments. According to the AFP, the method uses cells from a patch of a person's skin and transforms it into blood that is a genetic match, without using human embryonic stem cells, the study, which appeared in the journal Nature, said.
By avoiding the controversial and more complicated processes involved with using human embryonic stem cells to create blood, this approach simplifies the process, researchers said.

With the ability to create blood for transfusion from a person's own skin, the advance means someday patients needing blood for surgery or to treat anemia could bypass the blood bank and derive the necessary supply from themselves.

The breakthrough could also see future uses such as allowing patients undergoing chemotherapy to endure a longer regime of treatment without the breaks currently needed to rejuvenate the body. Researchers have been able to perform the skin-to-blood transformation in the past, but while using human pluripotent stem cells, widely known as embryonic stem cells.

Stem cells that are derived from human embryos hold significant promise for medical breakthroughs but also carry risks, such as the potential to create tumors. But researchers say their new method can create enough blood for a transfusion from a four by three centimeter (1.6 by 1.2 inch) patch of adult human skin, and can avoid those potential hurdles. Source: AFP
The study said clinical studies could start in 2012. This is groundbreaking and could advance cancer treatment in the near future. For all those people who say stem cell research shouldn't be undertaken, the scientists involved have accomplished a major feat that will have far-reaching effects.

Read more: Cellular 'alchemy' transforms skin into blood | Nature
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