Scientists Grow Blood Stem Cells in the Lab for the First Time

iStock
iStock

One little cell can go a very long way—especially if that cell is a blood stem cell. Now two research groups have developed two different methods for growing these cells, a development that could help us understand and fight cancer. The scientists published their papers in the journal Nature.

Hematopoietic, or blood-making, stem cells (HSCs) are extraordinary things, so full of creative potential that a single cell can be used to restore an entire mammal circulatory system. Unfortunately, this same generative power also makes them prone to developing cancer-causing genetic mutations. If we could figure out how these HSCs work, we might be able to separate their skills from their weaknesses.

The most efficient way to access and study these complex cells would be to grow them in the lab. The authors of the new papers present two different approaches that may get us there.

Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) from human iPS cells.Rio Sugimura

The first group, led by Boston-based cancer experts George Daley and Ryohichi Sugimura, used chemical signals and genetic tinkering to transform human pluripotent stem cells into blood cells, and then, from there, into human HSCs.

The second team, led by Weill Cornell Medicine's Shahin Rafii and Raphael Lis, started with blood cells taken from mice, then changed the cells’ genes to coax them into becoming mouse HSCs.

Guibentif & Göttgens 2017. Nature.

Both groups’ freshly minted HSCs were functional, surviving transplant and producing more blood cells once they’d settled in.

Writing in an accompanying News & Views article for Nature, researchers Carolina Guibentif and Berthold Göttgens say both teams’ progress “opens up exciting opportunities” in the field. They note that neither method solves the problem of cancer-causing mutations, and the new cells’ success was only tracked for a short period of time.

Still, “although further studies are needed,” they write, “the long journey to translate the promise of stem-cell research into direct patient benefit may just have become a little shorter.”

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

- BISSELL Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner $170 (save $60)

- Dash Deluxe Air Fryer $80 (save $20)

- Dash Rapid 6-Egg Cooker $17 (save $3)

- Keurig K-Café Single Coffee Maker $169 (save $30)

- COMFEE Toaster Oven $29 (save $9)

- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater $31 (save $4)

Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

- HP Neverstop Laser Printer $250 (save $30)

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- HP Printer Paper (500 Sheets) $5 (save $2)

- Mead Composition Books Pack of 5 Ruled Notebooks $11 (save $2)

- Swingline Desktop Hole Punch $7 (save $17)

- Officemate OIC Achieva Side Load Letter Tray $15 (save $7)

- PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens 12-Pack $10 (save $3)

Toys and games

Selieve/Amazon

- Selieve Toys Old Children's Walkie Talkies $17 (save $7)

- Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers $59 (save $21)

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- Holy Stone HS165 GPS Drones with 2K HD Camera $95 (save $40)

Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

- DEWALT 20V MAX LED Hand Held Work Light $54 (save $65)

- Duck EZ Packing Tape with Dispenser, 6 Rolls $11 (save $6)

- Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage Auto Vacuum $111 (save $39)

- Full Circle Sinksational Sink Strainer with Stopper $5 (save $2)

Home Décor

NECA/Amazon

- A Christmas Story 20-Inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA $41 save $5

- SYLVANIA 100 LED Warm White Mini Lights $8 (save 2)

- Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle Vanilla Cupcake $17 (save $12)

- Malden 8-Opening Matted Collage Picture Frame $20 (save $8)

- Lush Decor Blue and Gray Flower Curtains Pair $57 (save $55)

- LEVOIT Essential Oil Diffuser $25 (save $5)

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100 Fascinating Facts About Earth

The best Spaceball.
The best Spaceball.
NASA

Did you know that there’s a place in the South Pacific Ocean called Point Nemo that’s farther from land than any other point on Earth? So far, in fact, that the closest humans are usually astronauts aboard the International Space Station. (And by the way: The map you’re about to look for Point Nemo on might not be entirely accurate; a certain amount of distortion occurs when trying to depict a 3D planet on a 2D surface.)

In this all-new episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is journeying to the center of the Earth, and visiting its oceans, its atmosphere, and even space, in search of 100 facts about our endlessly fascinating planet.

The subjects that fall under the umbrella of “facts about Earth” are nearly as expansive as Earth itself. Geology, biology, astronomy, and cartography, are all fair game—and those are just a few of the many -ologies, -onomies, and -ographies you’ll learn about below. 

Press play to find out more Earth-shattering facts, and subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for more fact-filled videos here.