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New approach to stem cell banking: stem cells created from a single blood drop

Scientists from Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology have found a method to produce induced pluripotent stem cells from a single drop of blood obtained by fingerprick. The method is even more attractive as it lets donors to collect blood samples on their own. In the laboratory, stem cells from a blood drop could be processed and expanded. This technique, due to its simplicity, could potentially bring higher recruitment and increase in diversity of donors, as well as lead to forming banks collecting human induced pluripotent stem cells. 

Induced pluripotent stem cells are stem cells that have the properties of embryonic stem cells but were produced from mature cells by genetic reprogramming. The idea of using these cells for basic research,  restoring functions in the body and creating new organs instead of the damaged ones is being developed in many countries such as Japan, USA and UK etc. However, current techniques of collecting cells for further reprogramming are quite invasive and hinder the development of their potential benefits. 

With fingerprick tenchology, suggested for collecting cells for reprogramming for the first time ever in Stem Cell Translational Medicine journal, this could be overcome. With a DIY sample collection approach, people and donors  may collect the blood samples themselves and send them to laboratories during 48 hours after collection – blood samples stay stable during this period. Then cells will be expanded for 12 days in culture.

The collected samples could be used for research as well as regenerative medicine. These cells could also fully replace the controversial embryonic stem cells in the research.