McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster scientists turn skin into blood

Published: November 7, 2010
Mick Bhatia
Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

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, 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.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and his team of researchers have also shown that the conversion is direct. Making blood from skin does not require the middle step of changing a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem cell that could make many other types of human cells, then turning it into a blood stem cell.  

"We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process," said Bhatia. "We’ll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence."

The discovery was replicated several times over two years using human skin from both young and old people to prove it works for any age of person.

This 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

Related story


Study Article


Video


Audio

Dr. John Kelton, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, is interviewed about a way to transform human skin into different types of blood cells.
— Bill Kelly Show #340, 900 AM CMHL radio, November 8, 2010

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