One of the greatest hunts in medical science has been for the hematopoietic stem cell. No, it doesn’t make rhymes about plasma, it’s the stem cell that creates your blood supply. What, you thought it came from drinking water?
The problem has been one of volume: an HSC is outnumbered 1 to 100,000 by regular blood cells, making them extremely difficult to even find, let alone isolate. But hunting them is worth it: just one of these cells placed into a mouse differentiated into every single blood type. How worth it? John Dick, the man who lead the team that finally discovered the protein code that allows tracking and isolation, has been working on this for twenty-three years.
This is a huge deal, medically speaking. While it’s not going to make blood banks obsolete tomorrow, it will give researchers unlimited access to all types of blood, which will vastly speed up medical research. Maybe in twenty years, we’ll just churn out all the blood we need. But either way, it’s a great day for science.
[ via the blood hunters at Singularity Hub ]
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