Skin to blood transformation in the lab

April 15, 2017

Deepak Srivastava, a developmental biologist and director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, California had led a team earlier with the mouse fibroblasts. On this latest finding he said that directly converted cells could also offer simpler treatments than iPS cells: the fibroblasts that surround the heart could be transformed into new heart muscle using a stent that delivers drugs to reprogram the cells.

However Wilmut warns that these converted cells cannot easily multiply in the lab, so producing the large quantities needed for applications such as screening drugs could prove tough.

Cynthia Dunbar, head of the molecular hematopoiesis section of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, said she was eager to try out the Canadian team??s approach. She said, ???I think there are exciting aspects in terms of this potentially being a much safer approach than going back through embryonic stem cells??I work for the US federal government, and whether or not we can work with embryonic stem cells is up in the air?? I??m very excited to try this.???

Clinical trials are to begin as early as 2012. Leukemia patients are likely to be the first to receive transfusions of perfectly matched blood generated from their own skin. The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, the Stem Cell Network and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.