Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Reprogrammed human blood cells show promise for disease research

Cells from frozen human blood samples can be reprogrammed to an embryonic stem-cell-like state, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. These cells can be multiplied and used to study the genetic and molecular mechanisms of blood disorders and other diseases.

RELEVANCE: Blood samples represent an easily accessible source of human cells for research and offer a host of practical advantages over the reliance on skin biopsies to attain cell samples. The breakthrough described here allows for study of cells from frozen blood samples already stored at blood banks—even from deceased patients.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (July 1, 2010) – Cells from frozen human blood samples can be reprogrammed to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. These cells can be multiplied and used to study the genetic and molecular mechanisms of blood disorders and other diseases.

The research is reported in the July 2 issue of Cell Stem Cell.

To date, most cellular reprogramming has relied on skin biopsy or the use of stimulating factors to obtain the cells for induction of pluripotency. This work shows for the first time that cells from blood samples commonly drawn in doctor's offices and hospitals can be used to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

Using blood as a cell source of iPS cells has two major advantages.

"Blood is the easiest, most accessible source of cells, because you'd rather have 20 milliliters of blood drawn than have a punch biopsy taken to get skin cells," says Judith Staerk, first author of the Cell Stem Cell paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch.

Also, blood collection and storage is a well established part of the medical system.

"There are enormous resources—blood banks with samples from patients—that may hold the only viable cells from patients who may not be alive anymore or from the early stage of their diseases," says Jaenisch, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. "Using this method, we can now resurrect those cells as induced pluripotent stem cells. If the patient had a neurodegenerative disease, you can use the iPS cells to study that disease."

iPS cells are reprogrammed from an adult state to an embryonic stem-cell-like state by inserting four reprogramming genes into the adult cells' DNA. These reprogramming factors convert the adult cells, with defined cell functions, into much more flexible iPS cells. iPS cells can then be nudged to divide repeatedly or turn into almost any cell type found in the body, allowing scientists to create large amounts of the specific cells needed to study a disease, such as dopamine-producing neurons for Parkinson's disease research.

Unlike other cell types, human blood cells had proven extremely difficult to convert into iPS cells. Working with frozen blood samples similar to those found in a blood bank, Staerk found that she could convert the blood cells by inserting a "cassette" of the reprogramming factors end to end, rather than inserting each of the factors separately.

Not all of the cells in the blood samples were converted to iPS cells. Blood is composed of red cells that carry oxygen throughout the body, white cells that are part of the immune system, and platelets that clot the blood after an injury. Because red blood cells and platelets lack nuclei containing DNA, they cannot be converted to iPS cells. The only white bloods cells converted to iPS cells were T cells and a few myeloid cells. B cells failed to reprogram, most likely because the experiment's environment lacked the chemicals needed for successful B-cell conversion.

Staerk is particularly interested in using these iPS cells to study blood diseases.

"With this method, you could reprogram blood samples from patients where the underlying cause of their diseases is not known, and get cell numbers large enough to screen for genetic factors and study the molecular mechanisms underlying the blood disorders," she says. "That's a big advance, especially if the patient is not alive anymore and new material cannot be obtained."

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP).

Rudolf Jaenisch's primary affiliation is with Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where his laboratory is located and all his research is conducted. He is also a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full Citations:

"Reprogramming of human peripheral blood cells to induced pluripotent stem cells"

Cell Stem Cell, July 2, 2010.

Judith Staerk (1), Meelad M. Dawlaty (1), Qing Gao (1) Dorothea Maetzel (1) Jacob Hanna (1), Cesar A. Sommer (2), Gustavo Mostoslavsky (2), and Rudolf Jaenisch (1,3).

1. The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
2. Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine and Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM), Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.

3. Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 31 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Nicole Giese | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>