Researchers from Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have artificially generated new mouse blood and immune cells from skin cells.
The latest step aims to engineer new human blood cells from skin cells or other artificial sources and is expected to result in a new source of blood becoming available to treat patients with immune disorders and other such diseases.
GIS postdoctoral fellow Dr Cheng Hui said: “On the face of it, skin cells and blood cells couldn’t be more different from one another.
“We have been interested in whether it might be possible to rewrite the identity of cells, specifically to turn skin into blood.”
New mouse blood cells could previously be generated from skin cells but last only two weeks once injected back into mice.
In contrast, the artificially skin-derived blood cells in this new study can last for multiple months in mice.
The new study was led by researchers from GIS and Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) who have identified four factors that can convert mouse skin cells into different types of blood cells.
They were able to artificially 'rewrite' skin cells to adopt features of blood cells by introducing the four factors that are normally active in blood cells into skin cells.
GIS executive director professor Ng Huck Hui said: “This development could be a potential game-changer for regenerative medicine.
“If researchers are able to extend what they did with the mice to human cells in the foreseeable future, it can translate into tangible benefits for the patients in need.”
Image: Making blood from skin cells through direct reprogramming. Photo: courtesy of A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore.