A new method may provide easier access to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) via blood samples, according to a study published last week (November 29) in Stem Cells: Translational Medicine. Though it’s not the first time scientists have derived stem cells from blood samples— MyCell Services, for example, which ranked third in this year’s Top 10 Innovations, develops iPSC lines from CD34 cells—the new study is the first to outline a workaday method for researchers to use in their own labs.
“We are excited to have developed a practical and efficient method to create stem cells from a cell type found in blood,” lead researcher Amer Rana of the University of Cambridge said in a press release. “Tissue biopsies are undesirable—particularly for children and the elderly—whereas taking blood samples is routine for all patients.”
Rana and his colleagues derived their iPSCs from endothelial progenitor cells, which circulate in the blood and can differentiate into any endothelial cell type as well as generate new blood vessels in the circulatory system. With this new method, “researchers can freeze and store the blood cells, and then turn them into iPS cells at a later stage, rather than having to transform them as soon as they are sourced, as is the case for other cell types used previously,” Rana said. “This will have tremendous practical value—prolonging the 'use-by date' of patient samples.”