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» Scientists Getting Closer to Making Blood from a Patient’s Own Cells

They find more value in adult stem cells than embryonic stem cells.

Boston Children’s Hospital researchers have generated blood-forming stem cells from pluripotent stem cells. Never before had that procedure been accomplished. Pluripotent stem cells are cells which can be programmed to make almost any type of cell in the body. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) can be generated directly from adult stem cells, thus making the destruction of embryos unnecessary.

“We're tantalizingly close to generating bona fide human blood stem cells in a dish,” says senior investigator George Daley, MD, PhD, who heads a lab in the hospital's Stem Cell Program. “This work is the culmination of over 20 years of striving.”

The cells are actually a mixture of true blood stem cells and blood progenitor cells (cells that have the ability to differentiate into specific types of cells). When put into mice, they were able to generate various different types of human blood cells. 

“This step opens up an opportunity to take cells from patients with genetic blood disorders, use gene editing to correct their genetic defect and make functional blood cells,” says Ryohichi (Rio) Sugimura, MD, PhD, the study's first author who also is associated with the Daley Lab. “This also gives us the potential to have a limitless supply of blood stem cells and blood by taking cells from universal donors. This could potentially augment the blood supply for patients who need transfusions.”

Previously scientists had been unable to make blood-forming stem cells from either embryonic stem cells or iPS cells. Although these researchers used both types of cells in their research and were able to generate blood stem and progenitor cells with either type, they were more interested in iPS cells because of the ability to obtain these cells directly from patients and to model disease.

“We're now able to model human blood function in so-called ‘humanized mice,’” says Daley. “This is a major step forward for our ability to investigate genetic blood disease.”

Comment: Two things about this story, in my opinion, are worth noting. First, although this blog frequently shows science at its worst, we here see science at its best. Blood for use in treating patients is often in short supply, as we notice from the frequent pleas from health professionals for healthy people to donate blood. If these researchers are able to successfully complete their project, it should be of major benefit to medicine and humanity. Thank God.

Secondly, there is encouragement here for those scientists who focus on stem cell research to concentrate on using the non-lethal type of pluripotent stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells which are from adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells cannot be obtained from embryos without harming the embryo, and pro-life Christians cannot approve of their use. But I believe pro-life people are all for iPS cell research.

If God continues to bless the scientists working with iPS cells, it shows His care for His people. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And nobody can be more pro-life than the Creator of life, the Lord Himself. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

And, while we are currently experiencing our temporary earthly lives, we look forward to life in its purest form—the lives of complete health and joy which we will experience in heaven and which will never end, thanks to the life and death of our Savior. “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27).

Reference: Children’s Hospital Boston, “Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells,” Medical Press (May 17, 2017).

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

What ailment can unsweetened lemon juice help prevent?

Kidney stones. Unsweetened lemon juice can apparently help cut the risk of two common types of kidney stones—calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones. The lemon juice boosts levels of citrate in the urine, which discourages the formation of stones. However, because sugar can raise the risk of stones, unsweetened lemon juice is preferred.

Source: “On Your Mind,” Consumer Reports on Health [May, 2017], page 12.

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The opinions expressed here are those of The Editor and do not necessarily represent the views of LSI. Please note that links in older posts may be broken.

About Me--Warren Krug The Editor
Decades ago I attended a so-called Lutheran university where I could have lost my faith. The science professors promoted the theory of evolution and made fun of anybody who believed in the account of creation as presented in the book of Genesis. Thanks be to God, some creationist literature and the Bible soon helped get me back on the right track. Ever since then I have taken an active interest in the creation/evolution controversy.

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