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Biotech Canada Medicine Science

Scientists Turn Skin Into Blood 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the horror-movie dept.
Breakthru writes "In an important breakthrough, scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. The discovery, published in the prestigious science journal Nature today, could mean that in the foreseeable future people needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from a patch of their own skin to provide transfusions. Clinical trials could begin as soon as 2012."
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Scientists Turn Skin Into Blood

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @11:29PM (#34158756) Homepage
    Oops, sorry, a real link [nature.com].
  • Re:Another Nail... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @11:46PM (#34158838)

    You were the one who started to be political about this. So don't complain.

  • Re:Quantity? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @11:54PM (#34158880)

    No, because most of that is water. Anyways, if you read the actual article in Nature, you will find out how much skin it takes. The information you want is in the supplementary information and they don't put that behind the paywall.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/nature09591-s1.pdf

  • by Lucky75 (1265142) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @11:56PM (#34158890)
    From what I read in other articles not posted on slashdot, something like a 12x12 cm patch of skin is enough to create enough blood for a transfusion. That's about the same amount removed during normal grafting operations.

    Link [healthzone.ca]
  • by Kurofuneparry (1360993) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:07AM (#34158918)

    A good question. The backwards conversion is impossible because the vast majority of blood cells are RBCs (Red Blood Cells or erythrocytes) and these have gotten rid of their nucleus, making them a cellular dead end doomed to destruction in about 120 days.

    Also, blood is mostly free water (plasma) and when RBCs are created their progenitor cells divide many times in the production process. Assuming that this process they're using is similar, you're talking about impressive volume multiplication in the conversion from skin to blood.

    Then again.... I'm an idiot .....

  • Re:Another Nail... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Penguinshit (591885) on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:00AM (#34159338) Homepage Journal
    Your last point is incorrect. True that much of the interest was in basic research (human ESCs were first isolated in 1998), but genuine therapies using ESCs are underway and more are imminent. Due to the ridiculous controversy, progress was made to develop induced pluripotent cells from autologous sources (say from skin) but the methods used rendered them unsuitable for the clinic. Recently developed iRNA techniques make them safer and more efficient, however the iPSCs tendency to revert back to their original tissue type still makes clinical use uncertain.

    For now ESCs remain the gold standard for clinical and research use, despite the allograft challenge. I am hoping to participate in a trial myself.
  • Re:Another Nail... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:55AM (#34159650) Journal

    Actually, this doesn't reprogram the cells to be IPS cells. It's a direct conversion, per the actual article from the actual source [nature.com].

    One advantage of direct cell conversions is that unlike embryonic stem cells or IPS cells stuck itno a human body, they're pretty sure these cells wouldn't be likely to cause tumors.

  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:18AM (#34159722) Journal

    They're not actually making whole blood, which is mostly water. They're making progenitor cells for blood which go on to produce red cells, white cells, and platelets. Most of the volume would come from somewhere else, but the cells they are making make the cells.

  • Re:Another Nail... (Score:5, Informative)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Monday November 08, 2010 @06:41AM (#34160128) Homepage

    Even if it is a replacement, we're still years behind where we would be if the hicks didn't insist that we throw out the unused embryos.

    First sentence: bigoted language. Sounds like we're off to a good start.

    As near as I can gather you are intending this post toward the 'life-begins-at-conception' branch of the American pro life movement. In which case you are a bit confused in saying they "insist we throw out the unused embryos" given that they fight tooth and nail specifically to prevent unused embryos from being discarded. They often oppose IVF itself precisely because excess embryos are thrown out.

    As it stands we're destroying the extra stem cells from IVF instead of using them because the right won't allow scientists to use them.

    That's quite an uninformed statement. There really is no restriction on what can or cannot be done with embryos (apart from I believe in the state of Indiana). They are thrown out largely because there is no use from them. The restrictions which have existed (until Obama overturned them) regard limiting federally funded research to certain pre-existent lines.

    The reality is that we've got plenty of embryonic stem cells available without creating any more. Which really ought to be where the morals come into it.

    Where, exactly? At the point you align morals with "doing what's convenient and what we would have done anyway" I don't think you've really addressed a moral question at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:16AM (#34160910)

    Article says 12 square cm (3cm x 4cm), 12x12cm is 144 square cm.

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