Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Wisconsin Scientists Find Genetic Recipe to Turn Stem Cells to Blood

Published: Monday, July 14, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Bookmark and Share
The ability to reliably and safely make in the laboratory all of the different types of cells in human blood is one key step closer to reality.

Writing today in the journal Nature Communications, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin reports the discovery of two genetic programs responsible for taking blank-slate stem cells and turning them into both red and the array of white cells that make up human blood.

The research is important because it identifies how nature itself makes blood products at the earliest stages of development. The discovery gives scientists the tools to make the cells themselves, investigate how blood cells develop and produce clinically relevant blood products.

“This is the first demonstration of the production of different kinds of cells from human pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors,” explains Slukvin, referencing the proteins that bind to DNA and control the flow of genetic information, which ultimately determines the developmental fate of undifferentiated stem cells.

During development, blood cells emerge in the aorta, a major blood vessel in the embryo. There, blood cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, are generated by budding from a unique population of what scientists call hemogenic endothelial cells. The new report identifies two distinct groups of transcription factors that can directly convert human stem cells into the hemogenic endothelial cells, which subsequently develop into various types of blood cells.

The factors identified by Slukvin’s group were capable of making the range of human blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and megakaryocytes, commonly used blood products.

 “By overexpressing just two transcription factors, we can, in the laboratory dish, reproduce the sequence of events we see in the embryo” where blood is made, says Slukvin of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.

The method developed by Slukvin’s group was shown to produce blood cells in abundance. For every million stem cells, the researchers were able to produce 30 million blood cells.

A critical aspect of the work is the use of modified messenger RNA to direct stem cells toward particular developmental fates. The new approach makes it possible to induce cells without introducing any genetic artifacts. By co-opting nature’s method of making cells and avoiding all potential genetic artifacts, cells for therapy can be made safer.

“You can do it without a virus, and genome integrity is not affected,” Slukvin notes.

Moreover, while the new work shows that blood can be made by manipulating genetic mechanisms, the approach is likely to be true as well for making other types of cells with therapeutic potential, including cells of the pancreas and heart.

An unfulfilled aspiration, says Slukvin, is to make hematopoietic stem cells, multipotent stem cells found in bone marrow. Hematopoietic stem cells are used to treat some cancers, including leukemia and multiple myeloma. Devising a method for producing them in the lab remains a significant challenge.

“We still don’t know how to do that,” Slukvin notes, “but our new approach to making blood cells will give us an opportunity to model their development in a dish and identify novel hematopoietic stem cell factors.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Petri Dish Tumor Test
In a highly successful, first-of-its-kind endeavour, researchers have created a "tumor in a dish:" an ex vivo microenvironment that can accurately anticipate a multiple myeloma patient's response to a drug.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Stem Cell Symposium to Address Brain, Nervous System
Seventh Symposium will focus on the mechanisms of neural development, modeling neural disorders, and harnessing the potential of neural regeneration.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Study Reveals Critical Similarity Between Two Types of Do-it-All Stem Cells
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report the first full measurement of the proteins made by both types of stem cells.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Study Shows Patient’s Own Cells may Hold Therapeutic Promise After Reprogramming, Gene Correction
Scientists determine that the process of correcting a genetic defect does not substantially increase the number of potentially cancer-causing mutations in induced pluripotent stem cells.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Scientific News
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.
Genetically Engineering Algae to Kill Cancer Cells
New interdisciplinary research has revealed the frontline role tiny algae could play in the battle against cancer, through the innovative use of nanotechnology.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos