Genetic method to turn stem cells into blood discovered

Washington, July 14 (IANS) Scientists have discovered two genetic programmes that can use stem cell technology to produce human blood cells.

The method developed by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin was shown to produce blood cells in abundance.

For every million stem cells, researchers were able to produce 30 million blood cells.

The discovery gives scientists the tools to make the cells themselves, investigate how blood cells develop and produce clinically relevant blood products.

"This is the first demonstration of the production of different kinds of cells from human pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors," explained Slukvin.

The research is important because it identifies how nature itself makes blood products at the earliest stages of development.

The new report identifies two distinct groups of transcription factors that can directly convert human stem cells into the hemogenic endothelial cells, which subsequently develop into various types of blood cells.

The factors were capable of making the range of human blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and megakaryocytes, commonly used blood products.

"By over expressing just two transcription factors, we can, in the laboratory dish, reproduce the sequence of events we see in the embryo where blood is made," Slukvin added.

You can do it without a virus, and genome integrity is not affected," Slukvin noted in a paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications.