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November 8th, 2010
05:50 PM ET

Scientists convert skin to blood

Researchers at Canada's McMaster University report that they've figured out how to make blood out of human skin.

The breakthrough could eventually mean that patients needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from a patch of their own skin to provide transfusions, the university said.

Skin cells that are removed from the patient can be multiplied in a petri dish and converted into a large quantity of blood cells, which themselves can be multiplied, lead researcher Mick Bhatia told CNN.

"We're hoping that about a 4-by-3-centimeters patch of skin could be removed from the patient, be converted through this process, which we clearly have to optimize, and ultimately have enough to transplant (enough blood for) a full-grown adult," said Bhatia, scientific director of the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The scientists were able to convert the cells directly without first converting them to pluripotent stem cells - the kind that can grow into any type of organ or tissue - and then converting them again to blood, Bhatia said.

"This groundbreaking work from Mick Bhatia's lab is both fascinating and important," said Samuel Weiss, professor and director, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary. "It heralds a new age by discovering a role for 'directed differentiation' in the treatment of cancers and other disorders of the blood and immune system."

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. It was published in Monday's edition of the journal Nature.

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Filed under: Stem Cells

soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Muhameed

    You listen to me now, if there is something that makes me angry is you going against what I said not to do. You don't need to be screaming,..it's not lady like...I can not believe where your manners are. What happened to women doing everyting they can for their man,...we are the men of the household. Without mals, you are weak and will never make it in this world. Femlaes can never stop men from doing what they want to, we own the world.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Laura, Cleveland

    "Bob from Pittsburgh
    I would not say "Ignorant American" is offensive and doesn't accomplish anything, however we must recognize that are some people with limited knowledge, or misinformed.."
    I think the last election showed how many people in America have limited knowledge, or misinformed as they allowed to be brainwashed by "money bags", who don't want any changes in this country and don't care about people but their profits, even they use "American people want, American people demand" every time you listen them

    November 9, 2010 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Oh, Canada, oh , yeah

    "BlameCanada", r u retarted? You clearly are not in touch with reality...or you r just the obvious result of a country that brainwashes its people. First off, I trust you enjoy the clean water that you are drinking, the fuel in your gas tank, that you can see at night with all that light, all that soft wood you build things with, the mediacal isotopes for cancer treatment...yes thats right we provide that to you...granted if we stop, you could just take us over with all your weapons and military...I guess being well equipped and spending money for war is much more important than curing its people from disease and other medical conditions. You stated that it is easier for medical coverage for a country less populated than the state of California...are Californians the only people that pay taxes???? If you dont get this...then ask someone to help you figure it out. Oh and for your information here some other things that we have contributed (invented)...next time do some more research before sounding so stupid:Insulin, Telephone, Light Bulb, Pacemaker, Zipper, Blackberry, Radio Voice, Transmission, Basketball, Snow blower , Goalie Mask, Electric Oven, Walkie-Talkie
    Alkaline Batteries, Plexiglas, Canadarm, Cobalt Bomb, Superman…lol, washing Machine, Snowmobile

    November 9, 2010 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. formosa

    It may be worth more if they can convert blood into skin, considering how valuable that could be for burn victims.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Democrate > Republican + Tea Party

    I read the entire forum, all of you have issues. If I had political power I would arrest everyone on this forum and send you to jail for 4 years. I agree with Susan when we need change in America. We need to give gays the right to marry and adopt, we need to stop the hate and bullying (even cyber bullying), we need to turn into socialist society becuase they are so many people that have nothing...absolutely nothing. It does not hurt someone that has 100k in the bank for a 10 dollar tax increase...it means nothing to him and everything to the families barely making it. I vow, today and until I die, to do everything I can to turn this country into a more accepting society to all. Vote in 2 years when the time comes and make sure Obama gets your vote!!!!!!

    November 9, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John D.

    I am republican and I find it offensive that you are trying to bad mouth us. I am for this scientific breakthough, it will save the lives of children and that is the only thing I look at. Whether you are religious are not, what political party you stand for, black or white...its human lives we can save so please set that apart from your views becuase it doenst matter. It makes me sad to think people are against such techologies becuase of religion. We need to move forward, it's not the middle ages anymore and we don't burn witches at the stand.

    November 9, 2010 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • veggiedude

      But as a Republican you don't want to support these kids financially in school or in after school programs. Deny food stamps? Just keep them alive and your job is done? Is that it?

      November 9, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  7. Andy

    This is really good news.

    - A

    November 9, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. David Mohoney

    That's not right to say that Veggiedude,..as americans we can not support everyone that don't want to work. If you don't work, youll live in the ghetto. People that work all of their lives and has insurance should not be placed and given the same medical treatment to someone that wants EVERYTHING FOR FREE. It's time for CHANGE,...WORK FOR A LIVING. Get your Obama "Distribution of Wealth" out of your system becuase its not going to happen. Stop living off white people, pull your pants up, and learn some grammar.

    November 9, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Anika

    Zmac,
    Americans talk a good game about loving America, but when it comes down to it, you don't want to lift a finger to help less fortunate Americans. Like many of the other civilized nations in the world, it is part of the Canadian national psyche to care for our fellow citizens. And that is why even though Canadians acknowledge that their system is not perfect, they wouldn't trade their system for yours.

    November 9, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. m n reddy

    Very exciting research work; and I am sure it will be a fantastic step for the future exciting times.
    After going thru all the comments why no one realized that this work came from an Indian . I wonder why it is from an Indian but not from all these 'hot shots" ( Anglo-Saxons)???

    November 9, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ross

    Good piece but he missed the most important question - how soon until we see this applied and saving lives in a real world setting?

    November 10, 2010 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Nandha

    It's not child abuse, it's just a bad idea, and he should be sein.Kinder tlaieimgte need to decide what they want to believe, and not their parents force them to believe how much nonsense.

    March 4, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.