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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Forget blood shortages - just inject your skin with some DNA

Scientists claim to have discovered a new technique that converts skin cells into blood by injecting DNA proteins.

SCIENTISTS MAY HAVE finally resolved the ongoing problem of blood donor shortages – by identifying a way that converts a person’s skin cells into blood of their own unique type.

Researchers in Canada claim to have identified a way of converting skin cells into blood by injecting them with DNA proteins, thus potentially eliminating the longstanding problem of having to find donors with common blood types in order to treat patients needing transfusions.

Skins cells from adults of various ages, and of newborn babies, were used in the experiments – and in every case, were shown to be malleable into blood cells.

The technique – if brought to fruition – would supercede the current methodology of requiring stem cells from from discarded embryos, which are then nurtured and ‘grown’ into blood cells. The new system would be more efficient for ‘manufacturing’ new blood, the Daily Mail reports, because stem cells can only be converted into juvenile blood, while adult skin cells would metamorphosise into ‘adult’ blood, and so on.

Depending on the chemicals with which the cells are injected, the Guardian adds, the cells become various kinds of blood cell – included early stage red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

A healthy mixture of all of the above cell types would essentially constitute a full sample of healthy blood.

The next step in the research will involve making sure that the blood can be successfully used in a transfusion. Such checks will be concluded within a year, meaning that – if successful – the procedure could be readily used in hospitals by 2012.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK described the development as “a really big step forward towards overcoming the problem of finding the perfect match for cancer patients who need blood transfusions, and it has the potential to save many lives.”

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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