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Researchers devise means to create blood by identifying earliest stem cells
Date:8/29/2008

fetus, when a woman is three or four weeks pregnant. Hemangioblasts can now be derived in unlimited supply experimentally from cultured human embryonic stem cells, which are the origin of all cell types in the body. These hemangioblasts go on to become either blood cells or endothelial cells, which form the inner lining of the heart, veins and arteries, and lymph vessels.

The research grew out of Zambidis' interest in understanding the complex biological processes of blood development and the transformation of embryonic stem cells into the various types of cells that make up the human body.

Hemangioblasts make the body's earliest form of blood in the fetal yolk sac, which nourishes a fertilized egg, and later in the fetal liver and bone marrow. However, because human embryonic cells disappear early in gestation, their role in the early production of blood could not, to the researchers' knowledge, be studied in humans because scientists had no way to identify these human progenitor blood stems cells to follow their development. The scientists suspected they existed in humans, however, because they have been found in mice and zebra fish.

To find the blood stem cell, Zambidis' team grew human embryonic stem cells in culture and fed them growth factors over 20 days. Each time the cell colonies expanded, the researchers sampled individual cells, searching for ones capable of making both endothelial and blood cells, the hallmark of hemangioblasts.

They plucked the newly discovered hemangioblasts from culture dishes, grew them in conditions that Zambidis and his team developed to speed replication, and tested cells for their ability to make endothelial and blood cells. Cells capable of making endothelial cells and all the elements of blood (platelets, and white and red cells) were specifically marked with ACE on their outer surface.

The researchers found not only that ACE was a marker for hemangiob
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Contact: Valerie Mehl
mehlva@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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