BOSTON / NEW YORK CITY — It’s taken nearly two decades, but scientists may finally have the recipe to create stem cells — that wellspring of life and holy grail of regenerative medicine.
Two research teams have managed to create blood stem cells in the lab, while each using different techniques. Both papers detailing these efforts were published in the journal Nature.
The first team from Boston programmed human pluripotent stem cells to become endothelial cells, which typically line the inside of blood vessels. These were injected with special proteins called transcription factors, then transplanted into mice.
Weeks later, the cells had multiplied, and in some cases formed a wide range of human blood cells in the mice’s bodies.
The second team used blood cells from mice and injected them with a mix of transcription factors. The cells morphed into stem cells after incubating in petri dishes designed to mimic a human blood vessel environment.
When injected into weak mice that had been treated with radiation, the stem cells regenerated both blood and immune cells. The mice recovered and went on to live full life spans.
The groundbreaking research from both teams provides hope for patients who suffer from blood cancers and other diseases. But tests need to be carried out to determine any negative effects, before the procedure can go to human trials.