Human embryonic stem cells promising for replacement of blood supply

10/29/04

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute are one step closer to understanding how blood cells develop through the use of human embryonic stem cells. The research better defines the conditions under which blood cell development occurs, making the process easier to replicate. The findings are published in the October issue of Experimental Hematology.

"These findings do more than give us a basic understanding of blood cell replacement--they allow us to consider potential future therapies," said Dan Kaufman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology, oncology and lead researcher. "We can envision blood therapies completely compatible with the patient, such as use of embryonic stem cells to make red blood cells for platelets used in blood transfusions, or a source of new blood supply free of any viruses. They might also be a source for bone marrow transplants, especially for those patients who do not otherwise have an appropriately matched donor."

This process is also significant because the blood cells were developed without the use of animal serum, which was previously thought to be essential for blood cell development. Instead, specific growth factors are added to guide the cell differentiation. These results are important for potential human application. Animal serum can potentially contaminate findings and create complications for human trials.

Kaufman's research interests focus on hematopoietic and endothelial cell development from human and non-human primate embryonic stem cells. This research uses embryonic stem cells to understand the earliest stages of blood cell development.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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