Regenerative medicine blood breakthrough unveiled

05 December 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

The field of regenerative medicine could be substantially assisted by a new discovery by scientists in the UK that stem cells can be produced from blood.

Experts from the University of Cambridge made personalized stem cells using patients' own blood and used them to build blood vessels.

Writing in the journal Stem Cells: Translational Medicine, they explained that more work is required to determine how safe cells produced from late outgrowth endothelial progenitor cells are.

Stem cells are able to transform into any cell from the body and can be employed to repair damage and the latest innovation could see them created from routine blood samples and used to treat conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr Amer Rana of the University of Cambridge's Department of Medicine said: "Tissue biopsies are undesirable - particularly for children and the elderly - whereas taking blood samples is routine for all patients."

The research was backed by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation (BHF), with Shannon Amoils, BHF Research Advisor, noting that there is great potential for the cells to be used to repair tissue in the future.

A further breakthrough in the field of regenerative medicine has been unveiled by a team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

The scientists have developed a new technique that will generate stem cells from mature cells in order to boost laboratory production quickly and in unlimited quantities.

According to the specialists, the method is also safer than previous solutions for the production of stem cells and reduces times to create cells from almost two months to just two weeks.

They have looked at ways of generating pluripotent stem cells through "indirect lineage conversion" to reduce the risk of teratomas and speed up the process of transforming skin cells.

"One of the long-term hopes for stem cell research is exemplified by this study, where stem cells would self-assemble into 3D structures and then integrate into existing tissues," explained researcher Ignacio Sancho-Martinez.

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