Blood created from human skin

Human blood has been made from human skin in a groundbreaking experiment at a Canadian university.

Human blood has been made from human skin in a groundbreaking experiment at a Canadian university.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton report that they converted patches of skin directly into blood. Their process doesn't involve any intermediate conversion of skin stem cells into multi-purpose stem cells that can create almost any other type of cells.

"We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process," stated Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. "We'll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence."

The process was repeated several times over a two-year period and was conducted using skin cells from people of various ages.

The discovery could alleviate blood shortages and provide people needing repeated transfusions, such as cancer or anemia patients, with an assured supply of their own blood type. In the past, many patients who required bone marrow transplants and could not find suitable matches died.

Clinical trials could begin in 2012, the authors say.

The study, published in the journal Nature, was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Stem Cell Network and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.