The ability to reliably and safely make in the laboratory all of the different types of cells in human blood is one key step closer to reality.
Writing today in the journal Nature Communications, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin reports the discovery of two genetic programs responsible for taking blank-slate stem cells and turning them into both red and the array of white cells that make up human blood.
Two transcription factors are all that is required to make blood from pluripotent stem cells. Following introduction of the factors, stem cells form endothelium (green) which subsequenty become blood cells (red). The process mimics the way blood is formed in the embryo.
Credit: Courtesy of Irina Elcheva and Akhilesh Kumar, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center
The research is important because it identifies how nature itself makes blood products at the earliest stages of development. The discovery gives scientists the tools to make the cells themselves, investigate how blood cells develop and produce clinically relevant blood products.
"This is the first demonstration of the production of different kinds of cells from human pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors," explains Slukvin, referencing the proteins that bind to DNA and control the flow of genetic information, which ultimately determines the developmental fate of undifferentiated stem cells.
During development, blood cells emerge in the aorta, a major blood vessel in the embryo. There, blood cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, are generated by budding from a unique population of what scientists call hemogenic endothelial cells. The new report identifies two distinct groups of transcription factors that can directly convert human stem cells into the hemogenic endothelial cells, which subsequently develop into various types of blood cells.
The factors identified by Slukvin's group were capable of making the range of human blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and megakaryocytes, commonly used blood products.
"By overexpressing just two transcription factors, we can, in the laboratory dish, reproduce the sequence of events we see in the embryo" where blood is made, says Slukvin of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.
The method developed by Slukvin's group was shown to produce blood cells in abundance. For every million stem cells, the researchers were able to produce 30 million blood cells.
A critical aspect of the work is the use of modified messenger RNA to direct stem cells toward particular developmental fates. The new approach makes it possible to induce cells without introducing any genetic artifacts. By co-opting nature's method of making cells and avoiding all potential genetic artifacts, cells for therapy can be made safer.
"You can do it without a virus, and genome integrity is not affected," Slukvin notes. Moreover, while the new work shows that blood can be made by manipulating genetic mechanisms, the approach is likely to be true as well for making other types of cells with therapeutic potential, including cells of the pancreas and heart.
An unfulfilled aspiration, says Slukvin, is to make hematopoietic stem cells, multipotent stem cells found in bone marrow. Hematopoietic stem cells are used to treat some cancers, including leukemia and multiple myeloma. Devising a method for producing them in the lab remains a significant challenge.
"We still don't know how to do that," Slukvin notes, "but our new approach to making blood cells will give us an opportunity to model their development in a dish and identify novel hematopoietic stem cell factors."
The study was conducted under the umbrella of the Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, run by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and involved a collaboration of scientists at UW-Madison, the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Minnesota at the Twin Cities and the Houston Methodist Research Institute.
In addition to Slukvin, authors of the new report include Irina Elcheva, Vera Brok-Volchanskaya, Akhilesh Kumar, Patricia Liu, Jeong-Hee Lee, Lilian Tong and Maxim Vodyanik, all of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center; Scott Swanson, Ron Stewart and James A. Thomson of the Morgridge Institute for Research; Michael Kyba of the University of Minnesota's Lillehei Heart Institute; and Eduard Yakubov and John Cooke of the Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration of the Houston Methodist Research Institute.
Terry Devitt, 608-262-8282, firstname.lastname@example.org
The research underpinning the new Nature Communications report was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grant numbers U01HL099773, U01HL100407, U01HL099997 and P51 RR000167, and the Charlotte Geyer Foundation.
Igor Slukvin | Eurek Alert!
New Model of T Cell Activation
27.05.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity
27.05.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)
A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.
The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...
Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.
The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene
In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
27.05.2016 | Awards Funding
27.05.2016 | Life Sciences
27.05.2016 | Life Sciences