The blood stem cells are in great demand in the medical field. However, it is not not always easy to get. Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have tried to find a solution to this problem, and they have developed a system which could change this situation.
The researchers were able to demonstrate how a microfluidic device mimicking the embryonic heart could produce blood stem cell precursors. Such a system could allow the production of these cells on demand.
The lack of donors for a blood stem cell transfusion stems from the fact that the patients who receive the cells must have the same blood type as the donor. This prevents the immune system from rejecting foreign cells.
The solution proposed by the scientists
It is possible to produce blood stem cells in the laboratory, and these cells can theoretically be given to anyone. This is done by growing cell precursors that can then differentiate into any cell type.
When it comes to this new study, the scientists wanted to explore the idea of using a microfluidic device which pumps blood stem cells from an embryonic stem cell line.
According to the explanations of Dr. Jingjing Li, first author of the study, part of the problem is that we do not fully understand all the processes that take place in the microenvironment at the time of embryonic development leading to the creation of cells. blood strains. So they decided to create a device that mimics heartbeat and blood flowand an orbital agitation system that causes friction between blood cells when they move.
The obtained results
According to observations, the device was able to promote the development of blood stem cell precursors. Also, these precursors began to produce differentiated blood cells. They even produced cells resembling those that line blood vessels, and which are responsible for creating blood stem cells in the developing embryo.
According to Robert Nordon, co-author of the study, what they showed was that it is possible to generate a cell that can form all the different types of blood cells. They also showed that this cell is closely related to the cells that line the aorta, and that it proliferates.
With this discovery, the researchers hope that it will one day be possible to manufacture a device capable of incubating large quantities of blood stem cells. This will decrease dependency on donors and reduce waiting times.