Turing Skin into Blood

Researchers have found a way to get blood from skin cells, no not by cutting people. More specifically they can use skin cells to produce blood – something that was thought impossible. This will have huge positive effects on people requiring blood treatments.

Among the first applications McMaster will pursue is to eliminate the need for bone-marrow registries that seek to match cancer patients to donors against very long odds. Instead, the new process could turn patients into their own ideal donors, said McMaster vice-president and dean of health sciences John Kelton, himself a hematologist.

The director of Canada’s Stem Cell Network said the McMaster discovery is significant and could soon lead to what called “personalized blood cells”.

It is also important because it suggests skin cells can be converted into other types of cells, such as muscle or pancreatic cells, said Michael Rudnicki.

Read more at TheSpec.com

Stem Cells Can Reverse Blindness

This looks promising: new research has proven that in some cases it is possible to use stem cells to reverse blindness.

In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient’s healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.

Adult stem cells have been used for decades to cure blood cancers such as leukemia and diseases like sickle cell anemia. But fixing a problem like damaged eyes is a relatively new use. Researchers have been studying cell therapy for a host of other diseases, including diabetes and heart failure, with limited success.

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Obama is Bringing Change

Barack Obama’s campaign was based around the idea of change and now that he’s been elected it looks like he’s getting around to changing things. Yesterday he lifted the ban on stem cell research that Bush put in place.

“Today, with the executive order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers, doctors, and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for, fought for these past eight years,” Obama told reporters at a news conference at the White House on Monday.

“We will lift the ban on federal funding for … embryonic stem cell research.”

The long-promised move will allow a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis — research that has drawn broad support, including from notables like Nancy Reagan, widow of the late Republican president Ronald Reagan.

Under Bush, taxpayer money for that research was limited to the 21 stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001. But researchers have said that these lines have, in many cases, had some drawbacks that limited their potential usability.

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