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Under Our Skin: A Stem Cell Breakthrough

 

A recent study out of Lund University in Sweden has isolated a way to turn skin stem cells into blood stem cells. If you’re wondering why they’d want to do that, the answer is a pretty cool one.

You see, skin stem cells are plentiful - not to mention easily accessible - since they’re in your skin. But blood stem cells aren’t as easy to use or access as skin stem cells, nor are they as reliable to use. That’s because once extracted they can break down and lose important properties that make them useful in the stem cell extraction process.

Blood stem cells also cannot be used to treat certain diseases because if the disease is already in the bloodstream, and thus in the stem cell already, it would not be effective. But in some cases, converting skin stem cells to blood cells shows promise where using straight blood stem cells does not.

According to researchers, with this new procedure it takes up to 25 days for the new cells to replicate, but once they are done, they are virtually identical to blood stem cells, even following the same process by which blood stem cells produce during the embryonic stage.

Researchers were able to successfully use these new cells in test mice and would like to test them on human subjects next. They hope to someday use the replicated stem cells to help treat patients with blood disorders like leukemia, which is a form of blood, marrow and tissue cancer.

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