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Lab-grown stem cells could replace blood donations

Cancer patients could someday sidestep waiting for bone marrow transplants.

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Jan Bruder

Stem cells are kind of wild and can be used to create just about anything. Now, scientists have successfully created blood in a lab using the wundermaterial. As New Scientist points out, this could mean that certain cancer patients wouldn't have to undergo painful bone-marrow transplants in the future. And, that finding donors for such could no longer be an issue.

The scientists found a quintet of proteins that encouraged the stem cells to become blood cells, and when put into lab mice, the cells made red-and-white blood cells and platelets. Another research team did something similar, but started with adult mice and lung stem cells. The ultimate goal would be using this blood for full-body transfusions

Don't get too excited just yet. We're still a few years out because this still has to go through intensive testing and clinical trials before it can be administered to humans. As New Scientist notes, there's still a chance these stem cells could mutate and become cancerous. So, the current plan is to use them for platelet and red blood cell production -- no nucleus means potentially no cell division and mutation.

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