:: 20, Mar 2014 :: A*STAR SCIENTISTS CREATE STEM CELLS FROM A DROP OF BLOOD

The DIY finger-prick technique opens door for extensive stem cell banking

1. Scientists at A*STARs Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood. The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing. The easy access to blood samples using the new technique could potentially boost the recruitment of greater numbers and diversities of donors, and could lead to the establishment of large-scale hiPSC banks.

3. Current sample collection for reprogramming into hiPSCs include invasive measures such as collecting cells from the bone marrow or skin, which may put off many potential donors. Although hiPSCs may also be generated from blood cells, large quantities of blood are usually required. In the paper published online on the Stem Cell Translational Medicine journal, scientists at IMCB showed for the first time that single-drop volumes of blood are sufficient for reprogramming into hiPSCs. The finger-prick technique is the worlds first to use only a drop of finger-pricked blood to yield hiPSCs with high efficiency. A patent has been filed for the innovation.

4. The accessibility of the new technique is further enhanced with a DIY sample collection approach. Donors may collect their own finger-pricked blood, which they can then store and send it to a laboratory for reprogramming. The blood sample remains stable for 48 hours and can be expanded for 12 days in culture, which therefore extends the finger-prick technique to a wide range of geographical regions for recruitment of donors with varied ethnicities, genotypes and diseases.

5. By integrating it with the hiPSC bank initiatives, the finger-prick technique paves the way for establishing diverse and fully characterised hiPSC banking for stem cell research. The potential access to a wide range of hiPSCs could also replace the use of embryonic stem cells, which are less accessible. It could also facilitate the set-up of a small hiPSC bank in Singapore to study targeted local diseases.

6. Dr Loh Yuin Han Jonathan, Principal Investigator at IMCB and lead scientist for the finger-prick hiPSC technique, said, It all began when we wondered if we could reduce the volume of blood used for reprogramming. We then tested ifdonors could collect their own blood sample in a normal room environment and store it. Our finger-prick technique, in fact, utilised less than a drop of finger-pricked blood. The remaining blood could even be used for DNA sequencing and other blood tests.

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:: 20, Mar 2014 :: A*STAR SCIENTISTS CREATE STEM CELLS FROM A DROP OF BLOOD

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